Like any good parent, Sam Bankman-Fried’s mother and father have stood firmly behind their son from the beginning of his crypto career until his fall from grace, but their staunch support and recent courtroom antics have put them under heavy scrutiny.
Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, both professors at Stanford University, sat in the third row of Bankman-Fried’s extradition hearing in the Bahamas, where their animated expressions were in full view.
Bankman, who received payments from FTX and was heavily involved in the doomed platform’s operations, was seen sporadically plugging his ears throughout the process, while Fried laughed several times.
New FTX CEO John Ray revealed he will be investigating Bankman and Fried’s role in their son’s alleged cryptocurrency scam at the company, particularly after it was confirmed that Bankman had given Bankman-Fried “legal advice” and that the family was given cash payments.
Both Bankman and Fried teach law at Stanford University, where their alleged involvement in their son’s FTX schemes has become a “subject of gossip” among colleagues, the New York Times reported.
According to his faculty biography, Bankman specializes in tax law and has written two casebooks on the subject. In addition to being a practicing lawyer, Bankman is a clinical psychologist and teaches mental health law.
Fried is a professor emerita of law at Stanford. Like her husband, she also wrote about tax policy, but her “scholarly interests lie at the intersection of law, economics, and philosophy,” her biography states. She is a three-time winner of the John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Ties to Democrats
Bankman helped write Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s failed legislation to simplify the tax code in 2016. He then signed a letter of support for the bill with 53 other law professors.
Bankman also has a history of donating thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, including Warren.
Fried co-founded super political action committee Mind The Gap in 2018, according to the New York Times, though she resigned in November. The group uses statistical analysis to determine the dollar-value influence of donations on Democrats running for the House of Representatives.
Fried was closely tied to her son’s donations massive donations to Democrats before the 2022 midterms, Business Insider reported. Bankman-Fried was charged with using tens of millions of dollars in Alameda funds to illegally make political donations “to candidates and committees associated with both Democrats and Republicans.” The White House has not said whether Biden would return the fraudulent money Bankman-Fried donated to his 2020 political campaign.
Roles in FTX
Bankman was a paid FTX employee for nearly a year, a spokesperson for the family told The Wall Street Journal, but mostly worked on charity projects for the company.
Fried was not a paid employee at the cryptocurrency company.
Ray confirmed Tuesday that “the family did receive payments.”
Additionally, Bankman-Fried bought a $16.4 million house in the Bahamas for his parents in FTX’s name. The luxury beachfront property was to be used as a “vacation home,” though Bankman-Fried later claimed he didn’t intend for his parents to use it long-term.
“It was intended to be the company’s property. I don’t know how that was papered in,” he said.
The couple has been living in the Bahamas with their son for the past month, the Wall Street Journal said.