The founder of the now bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of all counts of fraud and money laundering. The court’s decision comes after a nearly month-long trial in New York, but only four hours of jury deliberations.
The 31-year-old former billionaire has been convicted of defrauding customers of his cryptocurrency exchange in one of the world’s biggest financial scams. The court admits that he stole nearly $8 billion from consumers out of sheer greed.
The ruling came less than a year after FTX filed for bankruptcy in a swift corporate collapse that shocked financial markets and wiped out Bankman-Fried’s personal fortune, estimated at $26 billion.
The businessman was charged with two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty to any of them and maintained that while he had made mistakes, he had acted in good faith. He now faces decades in prison, with his sentence starting on March 28, 2024. However, it is not clear exactly how long it will be – that decision will be made by the court at a later stage.
“Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest financial scams in American history – a multi-billion dollar scheme designed to make him king of crypto”US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement after the sentencing, as quoted by British media BBC.
After the sentencing, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer said: “We respect the jury’s decision. But we are very disappointed with the outcome. Mr. Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to fight the charges against him.”
During the trial, three of Bankman-Fried’s former friends and colleagues, including his ex-girlfriend Carolyn Ellison, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him in the hope that the court would reduce their own sentences. They will be sentenced at a later date.
“The government won this case by putting a lot of pressure on the contributors, getting them to settle early on, and handling the case in a very rational way. Instead of overcomplicating the case and turning it into some complicated crypto case, they handled it as a simple scam ” said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.
The businessman will also be tried in another case opened by prosecutors earlier this year, which includes allegations of bank fraud and alleged bribery plots.
The founder of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX Backman-Fried has been arrested again