Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, was found guilty on all counts of defrauding his customers on Thursday in Manhattan federal court.
The one-time mogul stood with his hands clasped facing the jury as he was found guilty on seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. He faces decades in prison at a sentencing hearing that US district Judge Lewis Kaplan set for 28 March 2024. The verdict, reached after just four hours of jury deliberation, brought an end to nearly a month of court proceedings that featured stunning testimony from his closest allies and the disgraced entrepreneur himself. He maintained his innocence until the end.
“We respect the jury’s decision. But we are very disappointed with the result. Mr Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him,” read a statement from Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer.
His parents, the Stanford Law School professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, sat in the courtroom’s second row, holding each other’s hands. Bankman sat with his head in hands after the verdict was read.
After Kaplan left the courtroom, Cohen put his arm around Bankman-Fried as they spoke at the defense table.
As Bankman-Fried was led out of the courtroom by members of the US Marshals service, he turned around, looked at his parents in the courtroom audience and nodded. Fried looked toward him and crossed her arms across her chest.
Following Bankman-Fried’s conviction, Manhattan US attorney Damian Williams warned that other would-be fraudsters should take note of the convicted mogul’s fate.
“Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history – a multibillion-dollar scheme designed to make him the King of Crypto – but while the cryptocurrency industry might be new and the players like Sam Bankman-Fried might be new, this kind of corruption is as old as time,” Williams said. “This case has always been about lying, cheating, and stealing and we have no patience for it.”
“When I became US attorney, I promised we would be relentless in rooting out corruption in our financial markets. This is what relentless looks like. This case moved at lightning speed – that was not a coincidence, that was a choice,” he said. “This case is also a warning to every fraudster who thinks they’re untouchable, that their crimes are too complex for us to catch, that they are too powerful to prosecute, or that they are clever enough to talk their way out of it if caught. Those folks should think again and cut it out. And if they don’t, I promise we’ll have enough handcuffs for all of them.”
Bankman-Fried was accused of swindling FTX customers out of some $10bn. Prosecutors said that his fraud extended from 2019 to November 2022, when FTX collapsed under the weight of a liquidity crisis, caused by the lending of customer funds to Alameda Research, FTX’s sister hedge fund, without telling them.