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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.

Larry David appeared in an advert for FTX during the Super Bowl in 2022
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Larry David appeared in an advert for FTX during the Super Bowl in 2022

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.

A year later, a jury convicted the fallen entrepreneur of fraud and money laundering after just five hours of deliberations – based on evidence from close colleagues who had turned against him.

Now, “SBF” is beginning a lengthy prison sentence of 25 years for what prosecutors have described as “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history”.

His punishment may be little comfort to five million FTX customers who were suddenly locked out of their accounts as the company entered bankruptcy – and are yet to receive any compensation.

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November: ‘Crypto king’ guilty of fraud

An estimated 80,000 of Bankman-Fried’s victims were based in the UK. Some of them had millions of pounds tied up in the company after entrusting him with their life savings.

While slick marketing campaigns had presented FTX as a safe way to invest in volatile cryptocurrencies, the reality behind the scenes couldn’t have been more different.

Secret back doors had been established that allowed SBF’s other company, Alameda Research, to access money belonging to FTX customers and make risky bets without their knowledge.

Meanwhile, executives were spending lavishly. Private jets ferried Amazon orders from Miami to the firm’s headquarters in the Bahamas, £12m was spent on luxury hotel stays in just nine months, and employees in the US were allowed to order £160 of food deliveries each a day.

The fallout from FTX’s demise also reaches as far as the White House. Bankman-Fried was one of the largest donors to Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020, with the president subsequently facing pressure to return millions of dollars.

Read more:
Who is Sam Bankman-Fried?
SBF ‘wanted to be US president’

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

A new chief executive has been tasked with untangling where all the money went. Soon after FTX went under, he said: “Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls.”

Unusually, and thankfully, FTX victims are expected to be compensated in full eventually – kind of.

The payouts they receive will be based on what cryptocurrencies were worth in November 2022. But Bitcoin was trading at £16,000 back then and is now worth £55,500.

Bizarre plans to bring FTX out of bankruptcy and reopen the exchange have also been abandoned.

Other entrepreneurs in this space – who had loyal, cult-like followings and huge profiles – are also facing jail time.

Changpeng Zhao has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges. Reuters
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Changpeng Zhao has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges. Pic: Reuters

Changpeng Zhao, who ran the world’s biggest crypto exchange Binance, sensationally resigned last year after pleading guilty to money laundering violations in the US.

His company had allowed individuals in Syria, Iran and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine to evade economic sanctions – and allegedly made it easy for terrorists and criminals to move money.

The billionaire faces jail time when he is sentenced next month.

Do Kwon created two cryptocurrencies that spectacularly collapsed in May 2022, with investors losing an estimated $40bn (£31.7bn) in a matter of days.

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He later went on the run but was captured in Montenegro last year after attempting to fly to Dubai using a fake passport.

A civil fraud trial against Kwon and his company Terraform Labs began this week, with prosecutors warning: “Terra was a fraud, a house of cards, and when it collapsed, investors nearly lost everything.”

Do Kwon created two cryptocurrencies that lost tens of billions of dollars - then went on the run. Pic: Reuters
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Do Kwon created two cryptocurrencies that lost tens of billions of dollars – then went on the run. Pic: Reuters

In a way, Bankman-Fried’s sentence marks the end of an era for crypto – when extravagant excesses and a lack of regulatory oversight were the norm.

Bitcoin’s recent gains have been driven by regulated products that allow investors to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency’s price without owning it directly.

And many of these products are offered by established, traditional finance firms like BlackRock, which is the world’s largest asset management company.

A damning report described the rise and fall of FTX as a tale of “hubris, incompetence and greed” – with Bankman-Fried and his inner circle showing little regard for the financial wellbeing of his customers.

Millions of people had their fingers burned, and many will be put off from ever investing in cryptocurrencies again.

But while the industry has learned some lessons, the crypto market’s rapid surge in recent months mean there’s a real risk of another bubble forming – and new bad actors taking advantage of investors looking for a piece of the action.

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Joe Biden reaffirms US ‘ironclad’ support of Israel after Iran missile and drone attacks

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Joe Biden reaffirms US 'ironclad' support of Israel after Iran missile and drone attacks

Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security after Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles in an “unprecedented” attack.

With additional launches in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, over 300 drones and missiles, including 120 ballistic missiles and 30 cruise missiles, were fired at Israel.

RAF planes were involved in the defence of Israel on Saturday evening in a support capacity, Sky News understands, while US planes reportedly downed Iranian drones over northern Syria.

Follow live updates of Iran’s attack on Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency war cabinet to discuss the situation late on Saturday night, while, in Washington, US President Joe Biden also held an emergency meeting with top security officials.

Benjamin Netanyahu with his war cabinet on Saturday. Pic: Israeli PM's office
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Benjamin Netanyahu with his war cabinet on Saturday. Pic: Israeli PM’s office

In a statement following the meeting, Mr Biden reaffirmed the US’s “ironclad” commitment to “Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies”.

Across Israel, the military sounded sirens in multiple locations in southern areas last night as well as in parts of the occupied West Bank, an alert app showed.

A matter of hours after the attack from Iran, Lebanon fired rockets into northern Israel – who responded with their own launches.

Sky News international correspondent Alex Rossi, in Jerusalem, said he had heard “explosions” and seen “what look like air defence interception systems”.

Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel in Jerusalem
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Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel in Jerusalem

Interceptor missiles are launched into the sky in Jerusalem
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Interceptor missiles are launched into the sky in Jerusalem

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it was responding to an “attack on the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus” on 1 April.

Two generals and seven members of the IRGC were killed in the strike, which Tehran blamed on Israel. Israel has not publicly commented.

However, early on Sunday morning, a senior Israeli source told Channel 12 TV that the country was planning a “significant response” to the Iranian drone salvo.

Iran’s foreign ministry said Tehran would “not hesitate” to take “further defensive measures” to “safeguard its legitimate interests against any military aggressions”.

The response will be “much larger than last night’s if Israel retaliates against Iran”, the chief of staff of its armed forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri told state TV. IRG commander Hossein Salami added that Tehran will retaliate against any attack on its “interests, officials or citizens”.

Emergency services work at a destroyed building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 1, 2024. An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran's embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding everyone inside, Syrian state media said Monday. (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki)
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An airstrike destroyed the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Damascus, killing or wounding a number of Iranian commanders earlier this month. Pic: AP

Ten-year-old “severely injured” by shrapnel

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari told a news conference “99%” of the projectiles were intercepted.

Mr Hagari said: “Regretfully, a 10-year-old was severely injured from shrapnel. We send them our wishes of quick recovery.

“Except for them, as far as we know, there have not been any other casualties and yet this event is not over.”

He added: “Iran pushed the Middle East towards escalation. We will do whatever is necessary in order to defend Israel.”

Air sirens sound in Israel

As the IDF announced the Iranian attack had begun, as did the White House, this weekend, it advised people in the Golan Heights, Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat to take shelter.

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Sky’s Alex Rossi reports live from Jerusalem

More than 300 drones and missiles were launched by Tehran, along with 30 cruise missiles – 25 of which were intercepted outside Israel’s borders, according to the IDF.

They said Israeli forces had “successfully intercepted” the majority of the launches with its air defence system – as well as with help from its strategic allies – before they reached Israel.

Mr Hagari said the Nevatim Air Force base had been targeted and struck, suffering “slight damage to infrastructure alone” but it continued to function.

In this image released by the White House, President Joe Biden, third from right, meets with members of the National Security team regarding the unfolding missile attacks on Israel from Iran, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington. (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)
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US President Joe Biden meets with members of the National Security team. Pic: White House via AP

Mr Hagari also said 120 ballistic missiles were launched at Israel, but only a few managed to cross the border.

Drones were seen flying from Iran, through Iraqi airspace and in the direction of Israel, two Iraqi security sources told Reuters.

The drones are carrying 20kg of explosives each, Amos Yadlin, a retired general in the Israeli air force, told Channel 12 TV.

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Iraq and Jordan close airspace

An ‘unprecedented’ attack

Mr Biden labelled the attack by Iran and its “proxies operating out of Yemen, Syria and Iraq”, as “unprecedented”.

He condemned it in the strongest possible terms and said that the US military had moved aircrafts and ballistic missile defence destroyers to the region over the course of the past week.

He also spoke to Mr Netanyahu and reaffirmed his “ironclad” support for Israel and said he was going to convene his fellow G7 leaders in response to “Iran’s brazen attack”.

‘Attack further undermines regional security’

US, British and French planes assisted in the Israeli response to the attack.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement that additional RAF jets and air refuelling tankers had also been deployed to the region to “bolster” Operation Shader – the UK’s existing counter-IS operation in Iraq and Syria.

“In addition, the jets will intercept airborne attacks within range of our existing missions,” he said.

“I strongly condemn the senseless airborne attack that Iran has launched on Israel. It serves no benefit other than to further undermine regional security.”

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Jets from Jordan are also thought to have shot down Iranian drones flying across their airspace towards Israel, security sources have told the news agency Reuters – despite Tehran issuing an earlier warning to the country not to interfere with their strikes.

Israeli aviation authorities closed the country’s airspace to all flights – but it was reopened again several hours after the attacks.

Wing of Zion – Israel’s version of Air Force One – is airborne because of “operational considerations” and Mr Hagari added that the situation was “still unfolding”, and Israel continued to monitor its borders.

‘Reckless attack’

Earlier, Israel called off school trips and other youth activities planned for the coming days.

Jordan temporarily closed its airspace, state media reported, as did Iraq. Both have now reopened.

Egypt said its air defences were on alert.

Eithad airways has cancelled its services today to Tel Aviv in Israel and Amman in Jordan.

Read more:
Direct attack against Israel by Iran is unprecedented
Iran attack on Israel: Everything we know so far

Israel’s PM vows Rafah invasion will go ahead

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Explosions light up the sky above Jerusalem

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he condemned “in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel”.

He added: “Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.

“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We condemn the Iranian regime’s decision to subject Israelis to these unacceptable attacks.

“The international community has been united in urging restraint, and we regret that, yet again, Iran has chosen a different, dangerous path.”

Saudi Arabia also called on all parties to exercise the “utmost levels” of restraint and to spare the region and its people the dangers of war, while UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres also urged “maximum restraint”.

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All-out war, or not, in the Middle East? Biden’s test at the most dangerous moment

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All-out war, or not, in the Middle East? Biden's test at the most dangerous moment

“What next?” It’s a question anxiously asked too many times in the past six months.

And no doubt the question formed the crux of the late-night call between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Follow live: Iran launches attack on Israel

Iran’s spectacular drone and missile assault on Israel is truly unprecedented.

A region already reeling from the Hamas attacks and the Israeli retaliation on Gaza is being rocked again.

American leadership and leverage, tested repeatedly, is undergoing a bigger strain still.

This time though the consequence of President Biden’s test is all-out war, or not, in the Middle East. It is the scenario most feared since 7 October.

More on Iran

Without question, this moment – right now – is the most dangerous yet, by a long way.

A direct attack by Iran, from Iranian soil, against Israel is a red line crossed in Tel Aviv.

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The aftermath of the airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on 1 April. Pic: Reuters

Iran’s trigger was another unprecedented moment and another red line crossed, on 1 April, when a missile landed on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria killing 16 people. The Israeli trigger for that? Iran’s malign regional behaviour, as they would see it.

Tit, tat, tit, tat. You can see how this spirals. It explains the grim faces of the US president and his officials in the White House situation room overnight.

Even though so many of the drones and missiles were intercepted and despite no mass casualty scenario, Israelis will feel profoundly vulnerable, and the Israeli government may feel compelled to retaliate.

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Explosions light up sky above Jerusalem

Impressions and the re-establishment of deterrence count for a lot in the Middle East.

That is precisely why Iran hit back after the Damascus consulate attack. It’s also why Israel may be unable to ignore Tehran’s weekend wave of drones and missiles. Never in its history has Israel faced an aerial assault like this.

Read more:
Netanyahu convenes Israeli war cabinet as Iran attacks

Direct attack against Israel by Iran is unprecedented
Iran attack on Israel: Everything we know so far

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And of course, in the White House they know all this all too well. But we all know too that the US-Israeli relationship has been severely strained by Gaza.

President Biden’s test now is to balance the action and reaction of a nation facing a moment that will feel, internally, to be existential with the consequences of an all-out regional war.

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Why has Iran launched drones?

Significant Jewish settler violence in the West Bank, Hezbollah attacks from southern Lebanon and the continued disaster in Gaza all risk compounding the chaos.

Iran’s actions were more than anyone had expected. An unprecedented and enormously risky attack on Israel. It was an extreme attempt to re-establish deterrence. That works both ways.

Just six months ago, days before 7 October, President Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan wrote “the region is quieter than it has been for decades… We have de-escalated crises in Gaza & restored direct diplomacy…”

He was spectacularly misguided.

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Turkey cable car collision: All 174 people stranded in cable cars above mountain rescued a day after fatal crash

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Turkey cable car collision: All 174 people stranded in cable cars above mountain rescued a day after fatal crash

The last of 174 people stranded in cable cars above a Turkish mountain have been rescued – almost 23 hours after one of the pods hit a pole and burst open, killing one and injuring seven others.

The accident, which sent people plummeting to the ground, happened at around 6pm local time on Friday on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the popular tourist city of Antalya in the south of the country.

Footage taken in the aftermath of the crash showed the torn open wreckage of the car and tangled debris on the rocky ground as well as medics tending the wounded.

Rescue and emergency team members work with passengers of a cable car transportation system outside Antalya, southern Turkey, Friday, April 12, 2024. At least one person was killed and several injured Friday when a cable car pod in southern Turkey hit a pole and burst open, sending the passengers plummeting to the mountainside below, officials and local media said. Scores of other people were left stranded late into the night after the entire cable car system came to a standstill. (Dia Images via AP)
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The injured were airlifted to hospital

It left scores of passengers trapped in 24 cabins suspended high in the air. Interior minister Ali Yerlikaya confirmed the trapped passengers had been rescued on Saturday afternoon.

The major rescue effort involving helicopters and more than 500 emergency workers continued throughout the night.

Earlier, Okay Memis, director of the Turkish search and rescue agency AFAD, said 128 people in 16 cars had been rescued “under difficult conditions”.

He added: “The rescue of 43 others in eight remaining pods is ongoing.”

Mr Memis said rescuers hoped to complete rescue operations before dark.

The governor’s office named Memis Gumus, a Turkish national, as the man who died in the incident.

The injured, including two children, were airlifted to hospital.

A rescue team work with passengers of a cable car transportation systems outside Antalya, southern Turkey, April, Friday 12, 2024. A cable car disaster in southern Turkey left one person dead and seven injured over the busy Eid al-Fitr public holiday on Friday, local media reported. (IHA via AP)
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Rescue teams worked through the night to free those trapped. Pic: AP

It initially reported seven people had been injured in the collision, but the number was later revised to 10 by health minister Dr Fahrettin Koca.

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Mr Koca wrote on X: “One person died and 10 people were injured as a result of a cable car cabin falling in Antalya’s Konyaaltı district.

“May God have mercy on our citizen who lost his life in the accident, I wish a speedy recovery to our injured, and I wish a speedy recovery to the rescued and waiting to be rescued victims.”

The crash occurred on the final day of the three-day Eid al Fitr public holiday in Turkey – which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and sees families flock to coastal resorts.

Read more from Sky News:
Should the UK send troops to Ukraine?
US ‘moving additional assets’ to Middle East

The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618m (2027ft) Tunektepe peak.

It takes around nine minutes to make the ascent, according to its website.

It is run by Antalya Metropolitan Municipality.

An investigation has been launched by the Antalya prosecutor’s office to determine the cause of the crash.

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