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Sam Bankman-Fried: the guy who just wants to be good

Sam Bankman-Fried doesn't drink. He doesn't eat meat (except maybe shrimps, by mistake). He doesn't do wild parties. He doesn't do bad things. He just wants to be one of the good, helpful guys.

This was the main takeaway from yesterday's much awaited interview between SBF and the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin. In his peculiarly nasal voice, peering out from beneath his big hair, his face unusually red around the nose, Bankman-Fried stressed that he was a person of goodness and of duty.

He couldn't just sit on his own in a room, he said: he has a "duty to do what's right," particularly to people who've lost money in FTX. SBF admitted he's "screwed-up" but now he wants to do everything he can to be helpful and to make amends. "What happens to me is not important." It's all about helping the customers now. 

In SBF's mind, he's a martyr to this cause. "I don't know what my future is," he said. "I don't know what I'll be doing years from now...I want to be helpful wherever I can." There will be a "time and a place" for him to think about his own life, but not now. 

Amidst this sanctimony were moments of curious understatement. "Look, I've had a bad month," he explained to incredulous laughs from the audience. When he found out what happened, SBF said he called his parents and said, "Hey guys, there might be a problem." There were hints at something more painful: "It's been a hard period for anyone who is close to me and I feel bad about that," he added. Sometimes he guzzled drink from a can.

Mostly though, SBF stuck to his line and that line was that the real problem was at Alameda Research, managed by his alleged former lover Caroline Ellison. SBF said that he himself was simply overworked and didn't have time to monitor what was going on. The risk "dashboards" were also off. He wasn't throwing wild parties and taking drugs in the Bahamas. He barely drinks and the parties involved board games. At most, he takes medication for "focus" and maybe he could have done with focusing a bit more. 

Not everyone is buying it. But Sam still thinks he's good It might be a while before he changes his mind on that one.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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