Discover the dramatic verdict that could send FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to prison for 110 years, and witness his unexpected emotional response. Dive into the high-stakes world of cryptocurrency fraud in this gripping story.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried faced a critical turning point as a jury, after more than four hours of deliberation, pronounced him guilty on all counts in his federal fraud and conspiracy trial. The atmosphere in the courtroom was tense as Judge Lewis Kaplan called for decorum before revealing the verdict.
Bankman-Fried, at the young age of 31, sat stoically in an ill-fitting grey suit, showing no visible emotion. When compelled to stand and face the jury, he maintained his composure. The charges against him included seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, marking it as one of the most significant financial fraud cases in American history, according to federal prosecutors.
The allegations against him revolved around the misuse of customer deposits from the FTX crypto trading platform to cover losses at his hedge fund, repay loans, and fund extravagant real estate purchases, among other personal expenses. Despite pleading not guilty to all charges, the guilty verdict now threatens him with a potential sentence of up to 110 years in prison, with the sentencing scheduled for March 28, 2024.
As Bankman-Fried left the Manhattan federal courtroom, he exchanged a poignant look with his parents. His mother’s hand over her chest conveyed a sense of farewell, while his father offered support by putting his arm around her. The defendant, visibly shaken, stood between his attorneys who provided comfort and counsel.
In a statement, his defense attorney, Marc Cohen, asserted Bankman-Fried’s innocence and commitment to fighting the charges vigorously, despite respecting the jury’s decision. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized that this verdict should serve as a warning to all potential fraudsters that they are not beyond the reach of the law.
Judge Kaplan also announced a second trial for counts that had been severed, set to commence on March 11, 2024, with a request for the government to confirm their intent by February 1.
Bankman-Fried had stepped down from his role at FTX in November 2022, coinciding with the company’s rapid collapse, leading to bankruptcy. Throughout the month-long trial, the prosecution presented a case of elaborate and intentional fraud, while the defense attempted to shift responsibility for the FTX collapse and portrayed Bankman-Fried as a well-intentioned math enthusiast.
During his own testimony, he admitted to making mistakes but vehemently denied committing fraud. Bankman-Fried also claimed he only learned about the use of $8 billion in FTX customer funds by Alameda, a revelation that came just two months before FTX’s bankruptcy.
Notably, former co-chief executive of Alameda, Caroline Ellison, who also had a personal connection with Bankman-Fried, had previously pleaded guilty and testified under a cooperation agreement, admitting to fraud in collaboration with him. She highlighted Bankman-Fried’s belief in utilitarianism and his perspective that rules against lying and stealing limited his ability to maximize the greater good.
Furthermore, FTX co-founder Gary Wang confessed to wire fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud, including involvement with Bankman-Fried, during his testimony. Wang’s testimony was part of his agreement with the government after pleading guilty to fraud charges himself.