Dec 5, 2022 - Economy

The wheels of FTX justice turn slowly

Photo Illustration of Elizabeth Holmes and Sam Bankman-Fried with eyes and rectangles behind them

Photo Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios. Photos: Taylor Hill and Bloomberg/Getty Images

Social media is full of questions about why Sam Bankman-Fried hasn't been arrested, often with a reminder of how much money the former FTX CEO gave to Democratic politicians.

Clichéd and accurate answer: The wheels of justice turn slowly.

Reminder: Elizabeth Holmes didn't face civil charges by the SEC until March 2018 and criminal charges until that June. This is despite the initial Wall Street Journal investigation being published in October 2015, Theranos voiding two years of blood test results in May 2016 and federal regulators in July 2016 banning Holmes from running blood-testing labs.

  • With FTX, we're less than one month since the collapse.
  • Yes, Bernie Madoff went down fast. But that's because he confessed to his kids and then to the FBI.
  • Bankman-Fried, meanwhile, has publicly insisted that the FTX troubles were caused by incompetence rather than fraud. Not saying he's right, but rather that he's not falling on his sword like Madoff did.

The bottom line: It will take a good amount of time for prosecutors to make their case, particularly given the ongoing bankruptcy process and how much of this occurred outside of the U.S., as explained in this smart piece by New York Magazine's Ankush Khardori.

  • In the meantime, investigators must be loving Bankman-Fried's addiction to journalists, particularly as he's begun to contradict himself on key aspects of how client funds were used. It's not under oath — as would be the House hearing that Bankman-Fried seems disinclined to attend — but it's still insight into his tactics and into where his defenses disintegrate.
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