Bernie Madoff’s Lawyer: Sam Bankman-Fried Should ‘Shut Up’

Ira Lee Sorkin, partner at law firm Mintz & Gold, discusses why he would’ve told the disgraced CEO to “keep his mouth shut” and not speak to various media outlets after the FTX exchange filed for bankruptcy protection.

AccessTimeIconDec 21, 2022 at 6:28 p.m. UTC
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Ira Lee Sorkin has two words of advice for Sam Bankman-Fried: “Shut up.”

Sorkin once represented the late Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, the man to whom the disgraced CEO is often compared since the FTX crypto exchange imploded. Sorkin told CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” that if he had been part of SBF’s legal team he would’ve told the 30-year-old to refrain from speaking so candidly during his many media appearances. Better yet, say nothing at all.

“If I spoke to him, I would say ‘shut up,’' Sorkin said, adding that the only individuals and entities concerned with what SBF had to say were regulators and prosecutors. “He should’ve kept quiet,” he later added.

Sorkin is now a partner at law firm Mintz & Gold. When he represented Bernie Madoff, the financier went to jail for leading one of the largest and longest-running Ponzi schemes in history. He died in prison.

Sorkin still questions why Bankman-Fried went on a media tour in the first place.

“No lawyer worth their salt is going to tell him to go out and hold press conferences and speak to groups,” Sorkin said. No attorney would have ever told Bankman-Fried to “go out and tell the world you made a mistake and you are negligent … you keep your mouth shut.”

Bankman-Fried is in the process of being extradited from the Bahamas, where he was arrested, to the U.S., where he faces criminal and civil charges. Sorkin said the extradition was “inevitable” and is likely Bankman-Fried’s way of avoiding spending “weeks and months” in an unpleasant Fox Hill prison. By waiving his extradition rights, Sorkin said Bankman-Fried is looking to speed up the legal process.

What happens next? There are a number of scenarios. According to Sorkin, Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions will depend on whether he is deemed a “threat to the community” or a flight risk. Bankman-Fried could also face home confinement, with a high chance of being monitored and even wearing an ankle bracelet, Sorkin said.

He said that based on what Madoff went through after his arrest and during his trial, “there will be enough cameras and press [and] satellite dishes surrounding where he’s staying that there’s no way at all that he could sneak out and skip.”


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Fran Velasquez

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.

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