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SBF committed perjury, keeping the crypto tradition alive

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SBF committed perjury, keeping the crypto tradition alive

As a US District Court judge sentenced Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) to 25 years in prison, the judge reminded the fallen crypto leader that he voluntarily committed perjury three times during his trial. Sadly, criminal conduct is unremarkable among businessmen in the digital asset space. For years, founders of crypto projects have withheld information, lied, failed to register with appropriate regulatory agencies, or executed complicated schemes to evade regulations.

Crypto perjury has a particularly long-standing tradition.

Perjury is a serious crime because it is often an additional, voluntary action that criminals choose to commit after they have already committed more serious crimes. Legally defined, perjury is “a false statement under oath or knowingly signing a legal document that is false or includes false statements.” In other words, someone commits perjury when they intentionally lie about a material issue when legally communicating with officers of a court.

The temptation to lie is particularly strong as the day of reckoning nears in a criminal trial. As their factual and legal defenses fail, defendants wanting to lessen a prison sentence are tempted to simply lie outright. For this reason, perjury is also classified as a crime that increases recommended prison sentencing terms.

The most famous self-perjurer in the crypto industry is Craig Wright, who is famous for having not invented Bitcoin. Wright perjured himself in the presence of a US magistrate judge. Eventually, a UK High Court of Justice judge summarily humiliated his self-proclamation. According to the world’s supreme copyright court, Wright does not own Bitcoin’s whitepaper copyright and is not Bitcoin’s creator.

Wright’s longtime financial supporter Calvin Ayre quit social media after that definitive ruling, using the excuse of a pre-planned “adventure.”

Read more: Where in the world is Sam Trabucco? FTX victims launch manhunt

Other examples of crypto perjury

Another crypto bigwig who perjured himself in court was Konstantin Ignatov of OneCoin fame. Ignatov was the brother of “CryptoQueen” Ruja Ignatova who led one of the largest Ponzi schemes in crypto history. Ignatov falsely told a judge that he threw away his laptop in a Las Vegas trash can. In fact, Ignatov’s co-conspirator took that laptop onto safe transport outside the US. US authorities are still looking for that laptop with OneCoin data.

Another famous crypto perjury actually made it to the silver screen in Netflix’s Bitconned. After committing crimes via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) called Centra Tech, co-founders Raymond Trapani and Robert Farkas pled guilty to perjury in the first degree. Both admitted to lying under oath. They committed perjury in an attempt to defend their third co-founder, Sohrab Sharma, in his criminal trial.

Another lesser-known crypto perjury case involves Frank Ahlgren III. The US Department of Justice indicted Ahlgren for not reporting capital gains from BTC transactions on three years of IRS tax returns. Because Ahlgren III signed his tax returns as true under penalty of perjury, any false statements are perjurious. His criminal case began this year and is still ongoing.

Failure to disclose crypto investments on a US tax return carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, disgorgement of unpaid taxes, and fines of up to $100,000 per year. Because tens of millions of American crypto investors file IRS tax returns every year with dubious accuracy, this form of perjury might be the most pervasive type of crypto perjury.

Despite its severe punishment terms and the voluntary nature of committing perjury, there is a disturbing trend of crypto criminals resorting to this last-ditch defense. Needless to say, a judge is the last person in the world that anyone wants to catch them lying. Unfortunately, for many of the world’s most brazen crypto criminals, judges were able to uncover the truth.