As disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried gears up for the start of his trial on Tuesday, two people close to him are facing legal trouble of their own: his parents. For almost a year, Bankman-Fried's mom and dad, both of whom are respected professors at Stanford Law School, have accompanied their son to pretrial proceedings at a courthouse in Manhattan, NPR reports. Now Barbara Fried and Joseph Bankman are being sued by FTX, which filed for bankruptcy late last year. Lawyers are trying to claw back millions of dollars from them — in cash and gifts, including a $16.4 million villa in The Bahamas, where FTX was headquartered before filing for bankruptcy. The civil suit against Bankman-Fried's parents alleges they helped run their son's crypto empire, and that for their work — some official, some unofficial — they were handsomely rewarded.
Having spent more than three decades on the Stanford faculty, Bankman and Fried have become institutions in their own right — important figures and beloved members of a close-knit community. They have won numerous awards for their scholarship and teaching, and colleagues consider them close friends. After FTX filed its lawsuit, NPR reached out to every professor at Stanford Law School for comment, and fewer than a dozen replied. In an email, Robert Gordon, who has known the couple since the 1980s, said, "Anyone who knows Barbara Fried and Joe Bankman well will believe it absurd to think that they were engaged in self-dealing — since for many years they have given generously of their time and money to good causes."