Guilty: Sam Bankman-Fried Convicted of FTX Fraud

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Prosecutors Say SBF’s Lawyers Are Trying to Taint Juror Pool
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A jury of nine women and three men found FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried guilty of seven fraud and conspiracy charges on Thursday, according to courtroom reporter Matthew Russell of Inner City Press, reaching a unanimous decision in the former crypto mogul’s high-profile criminal case.

Although the jury delivered its verdict today, it could be some time before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan determines Bankman-Fried’s sentence. He faces a maximum sentence of 115 years in prison.

Throughout Bankman-Fried’s trial in the Southern District of New York, he and his defense team sought to dissuade the jury of accusations that the one-time CEO orchestrated a sweeping scheme to commit fraud and misappropriate $10 billion worth of customers’ funds.

Prosecutors said he stole billions of dollars of customer funds from FTX through his trading firm Alameda Research. At the same time, Bankman-Fried stood accused of lying to Alameda’s lenders and FTX’s investors and customers. A jury was convinced.

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Their decision comes nearly a year after FTX’s collapse. The exchange’s swift implosion last November rocked cryptocurrency prices—pushing Bitcoin down to around $15,750—while delivering the digital assets industry a reputational black eye.

Key members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle testified against him during the trial. FTX co-founder Gary Wang, former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, and FTX’s former head of engineering Nishad Singh, all said they committed crimes at Bankman-Fried’s behest.

The FTX insiders pleaded guilty and are hoping their cooperation in the government’s investigation will earn them leniency in the sentences they receive for the charges they’re facing. Wang could be facing a maximum sentence of 50 years, Ellison 110 years, and Singh 75 years in prison. 

Bankman-Fried testified during the trial, speaking at length about how he didn’t commit fraud while answering questions from his lawyer, Mark Cohen of Cohen & Gresser, as he tried to shift blame for FTX’s collapse away from himself.

But he said he couldn’t recall details about his time at the helm of FTX at least 140 times during the government’s cross-examination, according to prosecutors. He also said he didn’t recall whether he ever said his now-bankrupt company was safe.

At the height of Bankman-Fried’s influence, the 31-year-old drew comparisons to Warren Buffet and John Pierpont Morgan. After all, he made a big show of swooping in to save embattled crypto firms as the industry came under pressure last summer. 

As his trial loomed, however, he was compared to convicted fraudsters like Bernie Madoff and Elizabeth Holmes.

The impact of FTX’s demise was felt throughout the crypto industry. But federal prosecutors said Bankman-Fried’s crimes had little to do with the technology itself during closing arguments on Wednesday.

“​​This is not about complicated issues of cryptocurrency. It’s not about hedging. It’s not about technical jargon,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos. “It’s about deception, it’s about lies, it’s about stealing, it’s about greed.”

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