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Disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of stealing billions of dollars from his customers.

He was the chief executive of FTX, which suddenly went bankrupt in November 2022 – leaving millions of users frozen out of their accounts and unable to make withdrawals.

The 32-year-old American could have faced up to 100 years behind bars – but last month, his lawyers argued such a sentence would have been “barbaric” and a five-year term would be more appropriate.

Initial reports said he had been sentenced to 20 years – but this has since been corrected to 25.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to jail Bankman-Fried for 40 to 50 years, arguing the public needed protecting from the fraudster and a harsh punishment would deter other criminals.

“The defendant victimised tens of thousands of people and companies, across several continents, over a period of multiple years,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

“He stole money from customers who entrusted it to him; he lied to investors; he sent fabricated documents to lenders; he pumped millions of dollars in illegal donations into our political system; and he bribed foreign officials. Each of these crimes is worthy of a lengthy sentence.”

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Prosecutors also said Bankman-Fried had cost customers, investors and lenders over $10bn (£7.9bn) by misappropriating funds to fuel his quest for influence and dominance in the new industry, and had illegally used money from FTX depositors to cover his expenses, which included purchasing luxury properties in the Caribbean, alleged bribes to Chinese officials and private planes.

At the sentencing hearing in Manhattan, Judge Lewis Kaplan said the businessman lied on the witness stand when he insisted he had no knowledge of customer funds being used this way.

The judge also described Bankman-Fried’s claim that victims will be paid back in full as “misleading and logically flawed”.

“A thief who takes his loot to Las Vegas and successfully bets the stolen money is not entitled to a discount on the sentence by using his Las Vegas winnings to pay back what he stole,” Judge Kaplan warned.

Crypto king’s jail term is end of an era

Sam Bankman-Fried was breathlessly described as a wunderkind – a boy wonder transforming the world of finance.

Renowned for his messy hair and unkempt appearance, he graced the covers of Forbes and Fortune, who pondered whether he could become the next Warren Buffett.

The 32-year-old was the founder of FTX, which had quickly become the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange – a place where investors could buy and sell digital assets like Bitcoin.

Star-studded adverts featuring the tennis player Naomi Osaka and the comedian Larry David added to its allure – with eye-watering sums spent on sponsorship deals.

But in November 2022, Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire came crashing down after it emerged that customer funds worth $10bn (£7.9bn) was missing.

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The judge said that the sentence reflected “a risk that this man will be in a position to do something very bad in the future”.

“And it’s not a trivial risk at all.”

He added that it was “for the purpose of disabling him to the extent that can appropriately be done for a significant period of time”.

Before he was sentenced, Mr Bankman-Fried apologised in a rambling statement.

FILE PHOTO: Indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the United States Courthouse in New York City, U.S., July 26, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky/File Photo
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Sam Bankman-Fried leaving court last July. Pic: Reuters

“A lot of people feel really let down. And they were very let down. And I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry about what happened at every stage,” he said.

“My useful life is probably over. It’s been over for a while now, from before my arrest.”

Judge Kaplan said he would advise the Federal Bureau of Prisons to send him to a medium-security prison or less near the San Francisco area because he’s unlikely to be a physical threat to other inmates or prison staff, and his autism and social awkwardness would make him vulnerable to other inmates in a high-security location.

Read more:
The meteoric rise and even sharper fall of Sam Bankman-Fried

Why industry may never recover from downfall of ‘crypto king’

It took just five-and-a-half hours for a jury in New York to convict him of two counts of fraud and five of conspiracy last November.

Three people from Bankman-Fried’s inner circle – including his former girlfriend Caroline Ellison – pleaded guilty to related crimes and testified at his trial.

Sam Bankman-Fried's colleague and on-off girlfriend Caroline Ellison testified against him. Pic: Reuters
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Sam Bankman-Fried’s colleague and on-off girlfriend Caroline Ellison testified against him. Pic: Reuters

Bankman-Fried’s conviction followed a dramatic fall from grace from his time as chief executive of FTX – the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world at one time – when he was worth billions of dollars on paper.

FTX allowed investors to buy dozens of virtual currencies, from Bitcoin to more obscure ones like Shiba Inu Coin.

FTX logo is seen in this illustration taken March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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Pic: Reuters

Flush with billions of dollars of investors’ cash, Bankman-Fried rode a crest of success that included a Super Bowl advertisement and celebrity endorsements from stars like quarterback Tom Brady, basketball star Stephen Curry and comedian Larry David.

But after the collapse of cryptocurrency prices in 2022, Bankman-Fried tried to plug the holes in the balance sheet of FTX’s hedge fund affiliate, known as Alameda Research.

Bankman-Fried’s victims – an estimated 80,000 of whom are based in the UK – remain out of pocket, with some losing their life savings.

Prosecutors described his crimes as one of the biggest financial frauds in US history.

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Baby saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

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Baby saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

Palestinians in Rafah are reeling from a series of devastating Israeli airstrikes that have killed 22 people – including 18 children.

The last 48 hours, horrific even by Gaza’s standards, are an indicator of what may follow in any Israeli Rafah offensive.

Doctors told the Sky News team in Gaza how they saved the life of an unborn baby even as her mother was dying from head injuries.

Follow latest: Netanyahu vows to ‘increase pressure on Hamas in coming days’

“We tried to rescue the patient,” Dr Ahmad Fawzi said.

“We realised that she was pregnant.

“We had to do an emergency caesarean to save the baby.

“Thanks to God, we managed to save the baby.”

A medic holds a Palestinian newborn girl after she was pulled alive from the womb of her mother Sabreen Al-Sheikh (Al-Sakani), who was killed in an Israeli strike, along with her husband Shokri and her daughter Malak, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, in this still image taken from a video recorded April 20, 2024. Reuters TV via REUTERS
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The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters

The little girl lies in an incubator.

She has no name but there is tape attached to her hand with writing that says: “The baby of the martyr Sabreen al Sakani”.

The baby’s mother Sabreen, her father Shoukri, and three-year-old sister Malak all died in the Israeli airstrike.

Her uncle says he will care for her now.

The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters
Image:
The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters

Also in Rafah, another airstrike killed 17 children and two women all from the same extended family, say Palestinians.

There were heartbreaking scenes at the hospital as relatives mourned the children being placed in body bags.

A relative, Umm Kareem, told how the children were killed as they slept in their beds, saying: “These children were sleeping. What did they do? What was their fault?

“Pregnant women at home, sleeping children, the husband’s aunt is 80 years old.

“What did this woman do? Did she fire missiles? We complain about our concerns to God.”

The strikes, all in Rafah, have provoked unusually sharp criticism of Israel by the UK government.

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Families mourn as airstrike kills children

Lord Ahmad, foreign minister for the Middle East, tweeted that he was “appalled by the Israeli strike, on a residential apartment in the densely populated Rafah in Gaza, which resulted in more children being killed”.

“We must stop this fighting immediately and bring an end to this conflict,” he added.

But there is no end in sight. Quite the opposite.

Read more:
Trail of destruction in Lebanon’s ‘ghost towns’
Situation in northern Israel ‘untenable’
Are Israel and Lebanon heading for war?

In an address to the nation ahead of Passover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used language from the Bible to hint at what might be coming for Rafah.

The enemy, he said, is “hardening its heart and refusing to let our people go”.

“Therefore, we will strike it with additional painful blows – and this will happen soon,” he added.

Israel’s government says it must take the fight to Hamas in Rafah to bring back its hostages and destroy the enemy, but far more civilians are being killed than Hamas fighters in this war.

Rafah is the most densely-populated area of Gaza. And when the offensive begins here, many more will die.

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Trail of destruction in Lebanon’s ‘ghost towns’ – as daily explosions fuel fears of escalating war

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Trail of destruction in Lebanon's 'ghost towns' - as daily explosions fuel fears of escalating war

The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon has told Sky News the dangers in the region have not gone away and called for calm, wisdom and de-escalation as a matter of urgency.

Joanna Wronecka spoke from her office in Beirut about her worries and appealed for restraint from all those involved.

“I’m very concerned,” she said. “Because we need just a small miscalculation and the situation can escalate even more.”

She was referring to the spike in cross-border firing between the Israeli military and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters who’ve been trading attacks with growing intensity since 7 October.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka
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UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka

It’s resulted in around 100,000 Lebanese fleeing their homes along the border and around 80,000 being forced to leave their communities on the Israeli side.

We saw a trail of destruction as we joined a UN peacekeepers patrol in south Lebanon.

UNIFIL peacekeepers
Image:
UN peacekeepers on patrol in south Lebanon.


Village after village, town after town have been left like ghost towns, with those homes still standing now emptied of residents. We saw multiple houses and buildings flattened, craters in roads and acres of farmland left burned and unusable.

In Alma Shaab town, a few hardy folk have opted to stay despite the dangers.

“It’s dangerous to stay here,” Nader Eid said. “But we have to. We have to survive and we have to keep our home safe… and to keep Alma safe.”

Read more:
Middle East violence ‘will not stop until Gaza war ends’
Situation in northern Israel ‘untenable’
Are Israel and Lebanon heading for war?

Exchange of fire is regular and often

Walking past crushed buildings which were once people’s homes, Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Vio from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says the exchange of fire and attacks is regular and often.

“For sure, it’s daily,” he says. “Every day we can count some different kind of activity and in different numbers.”

The UN mission in the country, only weeks ago, marked its 46th anniversary but used it to call for all involved to lay down their weapons and talk peace.

Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Vio
Image:
Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Vio

Before the Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October, the border area was judged to have enjoyed a relative period of calm and stability but that all changed with the events across the border.

Since then Hezbollah fighters and Israeli troops have been exchanging more and more serious fire, violating the terms of an earlier agreement contained in the UN Resolution 1701.

That agreement preserved what’s known as the Blue Line – an official demarcation area on disputed territory between Lebanon and Israel. All sides agreed this would be a demilitarised zone with no militia or military engagement in this area.

But Israeli forces continue to strike inside Lebanon at locations they say are being used by Hezbollah to mount attacks inside Israel.

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IDF footage of alleged strikes on Hezbollah

Hezbollah argues they are mounting strikes in support of the Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza, as well as distracting IDF troops on a separate additional front.

There are many suspicions among the Lebanese that the Israeli attacks are an attempt to snatch territory from them.

Whatever the motivations, the daily explosions have fuelled concerns across the region over the potential for the war to escalate hugely, drawing in multiple militias in multiple countries.

‘Lebanon is in a very sensitive place’

Ms Wronecka says: “One mistake, one miscalculation can make a difference and put this region in a completely new situation. And taking Lebanon’s geopolitical position into account, Lebanon is in a very sensitive place.

“So we deploy every day, every moment to speak about responsibility and restraint.”

Lebanon is home to around 250,000 Palestinian refugees, among them an 85-year-old man called Abu Jamal.

He fled to safety in Lebanon more than seven decades ago during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The hugely traumatic event became known as the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) and saw more than half the Palestinian population displaced and dispossessed with many never returning to their homes.

Abu Jamal with his key
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Abu Jamal

‘I pray to see my country… before I die’

Mr Jamal sees many parallels between what’s happening now in Gaza and what he fears may happen in parts of Lebanon too.

He was eight when he left his family home – a day he remembers with searing clarity.

He has a large key which he says was the key to his family’s front door, now part of Israel. He said: “My dad told me that it would be one or two months and we’d go back home – and we’ve been here in Lebanon for 76 years.

“This is the key to our home. I’m still hanging it in my bedroom. I pray to God we return back to our country Palestine. I pray I see my country and our land before I die.”

Reporting with cameraman Jake Britton, specialist producer Chris Cunningham and Lebanon producer Jihad Jineid.

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‘Ukraine will not be the second Afghanistan,’ says Zelenskyy after US aid package approval

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'Ukraine will not be the second Afghanistan,' says Zelenskyy after US aid package approval

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the crucial US aid package for Ukraine sends “sends a powerful signal” that his country “will not be the second Afghanistan”.

After months of deadlock, Democrats and Republicans joined together in the US House of Representatives to approve a package – worth $60.8bn (£49bn) – to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Speaking on NBC News show Meet The Press, Mr Zelenskyy said the aid is “a show of leadership from the United States”.

“This aid will strengthen Ukraine and send the Kremlin a powerful signal that it will not be the second Afghanistan,” he said.

“The US will stay with Ukraine, they will protect Ukrainians and democracy.

“Half a year we have been waiting. Now we have reached this important moment and this positive vote.”

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Moment US approved $60.8bn Ukraine aid

The aid package will now go to the US Senate, where it is expected to be passed on Tuesday.

During the months of delays, some Republicans were critical of the aid proposal and argued America should be focussing on its own southern border instead of European ones.

Asked about the opposition, Mr Zelenskyy said: “The Americans are not funding the war. They, first and foremost, protect freedom and democracy all over Europe.

“Ukraine is fighting, and sending it sons and daughters to the front line. It reduces the price for the whole Europe, NATO and the US.

“The US army does not have to fight to protect NATO countries – Ukrainians are doing that. It’s only the ammo that [aid] is providing.

Read more from Sky News:
What the aid package means for Ukraine
Man arrested over ‘plot to assassinate Zelenskyy’

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‘Grateful’ Zelenskyy reacts to US aid

‘We will have a chance for victory’

Addressing how the money will be used, Mr Zelenskyy said he hopes to get “tangible assistance to soldiers on the frontline as soon as possible”.

“We will have a chance for victory if Ukraine really gets the weapons system which we need so much,” he said. “This support will really strengthen the armed forces.”

Ukraine’s priorities are long-range artillery and air defences, Mr Zelenskyy added.

The US House’s decision to approve the aid was praised by UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, who called the funding “a vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he wrote on X.

“With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

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