One-time crypto phenom Sam Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace is complete.
A Manhattan jury on Thursday found the former CEO of crypto exchange FTX guilty on all seven charges for defrauding customers of billions of dollars.
“Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history, a multi-million scheme designed to make him the king of crypto,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in remarks following the verdict.
The guilty verdict came a year after the crypto publication CoinDesk published a story showing balance sheet irregularities at Bankman-Fried’s investment company, Alameda Research, that suggested the ties between Alameda and FTX were unusually close.
The trial took almost a month but jurors needed only a few hours to decide Bankman-Fried’s fate after Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan read through 60 pages of instructions and emphasized the need to decide if prosecutors had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The verdict was unanimous. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2024. The 31-year-old Bankman-Fried now faces decades in jail.
During a prosecution rebuttal Thursday morning, prosecutors reiterated their arguments that Bankman-Fried was responsible for decisions that left FTX with an $8 billion balance sheet gap and that he was acutely aware of this issue. They said he callously used customer assets for Alameda investments, political contributions and personal use.
Bankman-Fried, who made the risky decision to testify in his defense, said he was unaware of these key decisions and even the severity of his firm’s financial woes, and tried to assign blame to his inner circle, three members of whom testified against him earlier in the trial.
“We respect the jury’s decision,” said Bankman-Fried’s lead attorney, Mark Cohen. “But we are very disappointed with the result. Mr. Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to fight the charges against him.”
But U.S. attorney Williams called Bankman-Fried’s crimes “ fraud” as “old as time,” and said his office had “no patience for it.”
He added: “This case moved at lightning speed, that was a choice, not a coincidence.”
UPDATE (November 3, 2023, 13:21 ET): Adds defense attorney statement.