Former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty of all charges for his role in the collapse of FTX and Alameda Research
The fraud trial of FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried has come to an end, after a judge on Thursday evening held the jury later than expected so they could reach a verdict.
The former crypto billionaire and founder and CEO of FTX, which collapsed last year alongside hedge fund Alameda Research, was found guilty of all charges by the jury.
Bankman-Fried had pleaded not guilty to seven charges of fraud, money-laundering and stealing funds from FTX customers for his own use, including making property purchases and political donations.
But now 31 year-old Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty on Thursday of stealing from customers of his now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, in one of the biggest financial frauds on record, Reuters reported.
The 12-member jury in Manhattan federal court convicted Bankman-Fried on all seven counts he faced after a month-long trial in which prosecutors made the case that he looted $8 billion from the exchange’s users out of sheer greed.
The verdict came almost a year after FTX filed for bankruptcy that shocked the crypto and financial markets, and erased his estimated $26 billion personal fortune.
The jury reached the verdict after just over four hours of deliberations, Reuters reported.
Bankman-Fried reportedly stood facing the jury with his hands clasped in front of him as the verdict was read.
The conviction was a victory for the US Justice Department and Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
“The crypto industry might be new, the players like Sam Bankman-Fried may be new, but this kind of fraud is as old as time and we have no patience for it,” Williams was quoted as telling reporters outside the courthouse.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan set Bankman-Fried’s sentencing for 28 March 2024. He could face decades in prison.
His defence lawyer Mark Cohen was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement that he was “disappointed” but respected the jury’s decision.
“Mr. Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him,” he said.
Reuters noted that as Bankman-Fried was led away by members of the US Marshals service, he turned around and nodded at his parents, the Stanford Law School professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, who were seated in the courtroom audience’s front row.
Fried looked toward him and crossed her arms across her chest.
The parents are also being sued by FTX.
Bankman-Fried is set to go on trial next March on a second set of charges brought by prosecutors earlier this year, including for alleged foreign bribery and bank fraud conspiracies.
Renato Mariotti, a former prosecutor in the US Justice Department’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Section and now a trial partner in Chicago at law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, was damming about the tactics used by Bankman-Fried and his defence team.
“From beginning to end, Sam Bankman-Fried’s team failed to come up with a real game changer,” said Mariotti. “His fraud was brazen and difficult to explain away, and he lacked the discipline to keep his mouth shut even after it was apparent that he was under criminal investigation.”
Mariotti then added in a tweet: “Sam Bankman-Fried lost this case before it started. He put his lawyers in an impossible position, by committing outlandish crimes and refusing to keep his mouth shut once he was under criminal investigation. He has finally met a situation that he can’t talk his way out of.”
Sam Bankman-Fried lost this case before it started.
He put his lawyers in an impossible position, by committing outlandish crimes and refusing to keep his mouth shut once he was under criminal investigation.
He has finally met a situation that he can’t talk his way out of. https://t.co/YZC7yvFVD3
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) November 3, 2023