NEW YORK — Sam Bankman-Fried defrauded his customers and lenders, a New York jury found after a five-week trial for the FTX founder and former chief executive.
A tentative sentencing date was set for March 28, 2024. Bankman-Fried could spend decades in prison (and theoretically up to 115 years).
"Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said outside the courthouse after the guilty verdicts on all seven charges were revealed. "This kind of fraud, this kind of corruption is as old as time. We have no patience for it."
An appeal seems likely: In a statement, defense attorney Mark Cohen said Bankman-Fried respects the jury's decision but maintains his innocence and will continue to "vigorously fight the charges."
Jurors began deliberating a little after 3 p.m. ET. Just before 7:40 p.m., the judge said they had reached a verdict. The attorneys and Bankman-Fried returned to the courtroom and the guilty verdict was read out shortly thereafter to the packed courtroom.
Bankman-Fried kept still when the verdict was read. He'd been instructed by the judge to look toward the jury box, and jurors were told to look toward the court clerk and judge.
"The verdict unanimous, your honor," was the message from the 12 New Yorkers who voted guilty on all seven counts. The judge thanked the jurors for their service.
Sam Bankman-Fried's parents
As the foreperson read the guilty verdicts, Joseph Bankman, the defendant's father, buried his head into his lap from a seat in the viewing gallery.
His mother, Barbara Fried, kept still, back straight, with a kind of sullen expressionlessness – staring straight ahead.
After the judge left the courtroom, Bankman-Fried stood up and his lawyers leaned in and spoke to him. He didn't look back at the viewing gallery, even as his parents shuffled over to the wooden divider directly behind him.
Arms around each other, they stared at Bankman-Fried's back while roughly three dozen reporters swarmed around them.
Bankman-Fried still hadn't looked back at his parents or the rest of the gallery by the time he was escorted toward an exit at the front of the courtroom.
Just as he was about to reach the door, he shot back a final glance at his parents – with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it half-smile and nod.
His mother brought her hand to her chest with an audible thump.
A month-long trial
Bankman-Fried, 31, was arrested last December and tried on allegations of defrauding FTX investors and customers, and Alameda Research's lenders.
The once-prominent crypto exchange CEO pleaded not guilty to all charges, and went to trial at the beginning of October. Federal prosecutors sought to paint him as someone who deliberately set out to steal his customers' funds – around $8 billion – for use in a variety of purchases and investments, including real estate, sports sponsorships and venture investments.
His defense team argued that Bankman-Fried was an overworked businessman who made the mistake of assuming the company funds he used belonged to those companies, rather than their customers or investors.
Bankman-Fried acknowledged "there were significant oversights," but said on the stand he did not defraud anyone or set out to take their funds.
"A lot of people got hurt – customers, employees – and the company ended up in bankruptcy," Bankman-Fried said on his first day of testimony before the jury. "I made a number of small mistakes and a number of larger mistakes."
FTX collapsed nearly a year ago, after CoinDesk's Ian Allison reported that Alameda held a massive amount of FTX's exchange token, FTT, a revelation which, combined with a tweet from Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, sparked what Bankman-Fried described as a "run on FTX" – ultimately leading to FTX, Alameda and the companies' various subsidiaries filing for bankruptcy.
Key FTX and Alameda executives, including former Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang, former Head of Engineering Nishad Singh and former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, pleaded guilty to various charges and testified against Bankman-Fried during the trial, saying that they had taken direction from the MIT grad who co-founded the companies. A number of other former employees similarly testified that Bankman-Fried set the direction for FTX's operations.
Bankman-Fried, however, argued that he trusted his handpicked lieutenants to safely operate the companies while he was busy with his own roles as the head of the multibillion-dollar empire, including acting as the public face of FTX and lobbying regulators and lawmakers.
All told, Bankman-Fried was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud against FTX's customers, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud against Alameda's lenders, conspiracy to commit securities fraud against FTX's investors, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud against FTX's customers and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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