As CZ Gets His Sentence, Michael Lewis Should Rewatch ‘Star Wars’

Author Michael Lewis tends to take a very charitable stance regarding Sam Bankman-Fried despite his recent conviction, which led to a 25-year prison sentence.

Following publication last year of “Going Infinite,” Lewis’ book about the FTX founder that many said is over-generous, a Time magazine journalist asked him about criticisms. “This is what happens when you address a mob,” he said.

When movie rights for the book were shopped around Hollywood, the pitch letter said, as reported in 2022, that Lewis “likens [SBF and Binance’s Changpeng “CZ” Zhao] to the Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader of crypto” – and it wasn’t hard to deduce that SBF was, in the “Big Short” author’s view, the good guy and CZ the bad guy.

Well, so much for that.

SBF got a quarter century in prison. CZ was just sentenced to four months, and the judge, when explaining why he wasn’t harsher on the former Binance CEO, said, “Everything I see about you and your characteristics are of a mitigating nature.” Also: “There’s no evidence that the defendant was ever informed” of illegal activity at Binance, the judge said.

Contrast that with what a judge told SBF when deciding the length of his prison stay: “The scale of his crimes is measured not just by the amount of money that was stolen, but by the extraordinary harm caused to victims, who in some cases had their life savings wiped out overnight.” Also, SBF never offered “a word of remorse for commission of terrible crimes.”

Meanwhile, CZ stepped up, according to his judge: “The court finds the defendant has accepted responsibility.”

SBF was found guilty of stealing billions of dollars from customers of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange. CZ pleaded guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act. Wrongdoing in both cases, but on completely different scales (though Binance did agree to pay a multi-billion-dollar fine.)

Lewis sold a lot of copies of his book, and a movie is apparently being made via Apple. But he might want to watch “Star Wars” to remind himself who’s who, if the U.S. legal system is any judge of character, anyway.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller.

 

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