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Billionaire investor Bill Ackman says the public shouldn’t ‘rush to convict’ Sam Bankman-Fried

Ackman, Bill AckmanBill Ackman said he wasn’t defending Sam Bankman-Fried, but that the FTX co-founder deserves a presumption of innocence.

Brian Snyder/Reuters

  • Bill Ackman, known for his lucrative bet on COVID-19 crashing the market, extolled due process for SBF.
  • Ackman was cleared after his own past brush with the law over allegations of market manipulation.
  • He said defendants like Sam Bankman-Fried deserve the presumption of innocence at this stage.

The billionaire investor Bill Ackman, who heads the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital, can relate to the public pile on against Sam Bankman-Fried. 

Ackman, known for his $2.6 billion bet that the COVID-19 crisis would hurt the stock market, tweeted on Thursday that defendants like Bankman-Fried should be considered “innocent unless and until proven guilty,” citing his own past run-in with regulators over allegations against him in the early 2000s of market manipulation.

He was cleared in that investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Although that outcome vindicated him, he said the process gave him the sense that “some attorneys” at the New York Attorney General’s office at the time “were interested in finding me guilty regardless of the facts.” 

“I remember the other parents pulling their children away from me and my daughter at nursery school drop off when the Spitzer news about me dropped,” he tweeted. “I will never forget. And I was lucky as I had the resources to hire good lawyers and defend myself.”  

“Let’s not sacrifice our core values in a rush to convict @SBF_FTX as it does no one any good,” he wrote. 

—Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) January 13, 2023

 

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty this month in the US government’s criminal case against him and his right-hand people Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, both of whom flipped and took plea deals.  

Painting Bankman-Fried as the mastermind, government enforcers accused all three of executing a scheme to leverage FTX customer funds for unrelated investments for Bankman-Fried’s separate company, Alameda Research, and borrowing and spending huge sums of money with no boundaries or guardrails protecting customer deposits.  

Ackman said that the plea deals of Bankman-Fried’s associates don’t change Bankman-Fried’s right to be presumed innocent at this stage, suggesting that government agents could have their own career goals in mind in felling a major defendant. 

“An SBF conviction means a partnership at the best white collar defense firm for an aspiring prosecutor,” he tweeted, referring to Bankman-Fried by a frequently used abbreviation of his name. “SBF’s two associates would gladly see him convicted in exchange for dramatically reduced sentences for themselves so we can’t rely on their words as proof that he is guilty.” 

After FTX’s bankruptcy filing in November, Ackman tweeted in support of cryptocurrency, saying it could still “enable the formation of useful businesses and technologies.”

In his own Substack post this week, former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried insisted that he “didn’t steal” from the company.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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