As SBF's Trial Plows Ahead, Questions Arise on His Parents

Bloomberg details Joe Bankman, Barbara Fried's influence and involvement in FTX crypto empire
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2023 1:35 PM CDT
As SBF's Trial Plows Ahead, Questions Arise on His Parents
Barbara Fried, mother of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, arrives at court on Dec. 22 in New York.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Last December, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried insisted to the New York Times that his parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, "weren't involved in any of the relevant parts" of his now-defunct cryptocurrency business. Writing for Bloomberg, Max Chafkin and Hannah Miller dive deeper into that murky relationship, coming to the conclusion that the renowned Stanford scholars "enabled [SBF's] crypto empire," right as the latter's fraud trial continues in New York. Ex-FTX staffers and partners of the firm are now taking issue with the narrative that Bankman-Fried's parents were simply supportive parents, and Chafkin and Miller cite legal filings that suggest Bankman and Fried "were crucial to their son's transfiguration from schlubby startup nerd to hyperconnected crypto mogul."

The article describes them as "regular fixtures" at FTX offices, and ones who made $26 million in cash and real estate from the company just last year. Underlying the influence of the partners (they never married) was what Chafkin and Miller describe as the "extreme privilege" of being elite Stanford instructors and known do-gooders who were able to "really [open] doors for Sam," one source tells Bloomberg. Now, however, Chafkin and Miller write, "a debate has raged over whether Bankman and Fried knew about the alleged crimes. Friends of the couple, meanwhile, have struggled to fathom how two people who were famous for being ethical could have been so close to such a massive ethical lapse" and not known what was going on. "The most sense I can make of it is that it was blind faith," one friend says. "They didn't have the full picture." Read the Bloomberg piece in its entirety here. (More Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

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