In a decisive verdict, a jury convicted FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried on charges of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering after a month-long trial. The charges include two counts of wire fraud, four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jury, composed of nine women and three men, deliberated for less than five hours before reaching their decision. Bankman-Fried, whose sentencing is scheduled for March 28, faces the possibility of decades in prison.
During the trial, testimonies from former associates, including Bankman-Fried’s ex-partner Caroline Ellison and former FTX executives, painted a consistent picture of Bankman-Fried as the orchestrator of a fraudulent scheme. The prosecution argued that he misappropriated nearly $10 billion in customer funds for personal use, such as luxury real estate, investments, and political donations. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated, “The cryptocurrency industry might be new; players like Sam Bankman-Fried might be new. But this kind of fraud, this kind of corruption, is as old as time, and we have no patience for it.”
The prosecution’s case was further strengthened by Bankman-Fried’s own testimony, where he faced a rigorous cross-examination. Prosecutor Danielle Sassoon used Bankman-Fried’s words, extracted from post-collapse interviews, to expose what they described as a “pyramid of deceit built by the defendant on a foundation of lies and false promises.” Notably, Bankman-Fried claimed not to remember crucial details or his own statements more than 140 times during questioning.
In response to the conviction, Bankman-Fried’s defence attorney, Mark Cohen, expressed disappointment but confirmed their intention to appeal. Cohen maintained Bankman-Fried’s innocence, stating, “Mr. Bankman Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him.” The defence aims to dissect the trial proceedings, scrutinising the prosecution’s arguments and seeking grounds for appeal, particularly focusing on the claim that funds were borrowed rather than stolen and asserting that Bankman-Fried did not act with the intent to harm.
The guilty verdict has sent ripples through the crypto community, with legal analysts speculating on potential consequences. The appeal process is expected to hinge on Bankman-Fried’s credibility, especially considering the prosecution’s narrative of his knowing misuse of funds. Notably, questions regarding the involvement of Bankman-Fried’s family in the FTX downfall, particularly his father, remain a subject of discussion and speculation within the crypto community.