In a stunning turn of events, a jury has found Sam Bankman-Fried, the 31-year-old founder of FTX, guilty on all seven criminal counts brought against him. The charges encompass wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to FTX customers and Alameda Research lenders, as well as conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud against FTX investors, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted on all counts, Bankman-Fried faces a maximum prison sentence of 115 years.
Bankman-Fried, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the son of two Stanford legal scholars, had consistently pleaded not guilty to these charges, which were linked to the collapse of FTX and its sister hedge fund, Alameda, late last year.
After the jury’s verdict was delivered, Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, asserted that “Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.” He underlined that while the cryptocurrency industry and players like Bankman-Fried may be relatively new, the issues of corruption and malpractice are not. “This case has always been about lying, cheating, and stealing, and we have no patience for it,” Williams stated.
Attorney General Merrick Garland added, “Sam Bankman-Fried thought that he was above the law. Today’s verdict proves he was wrong.” He emphasized that this case sends a clear message to those attempting to conceal criminal activities within new and emerging industries, stating, “the Justice Department will hold you accountable.”
The trial, which commenced in early October, featured testimony from Bankman-Fried’s former close associates and top lieutenants, who cooperated with the prosecution. The jury, after receiving the case at around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday and taking a break for dinner around 6 p.m., swiftly returned a verdict later that evening.
During the announcement of the verdict, Bankman-Fried’s parents were observed in the courtroom, visibly anxious and offering each other support. Bankman-Fried himself, wearing a purple tie and a black suit, remained composed and unemotional.
With all counts read by 7:47 p.m., Bankman-Fried maintained his stoic demeanor and did not display any visible emotional reactions. Following the guilty verdicts, jurors were polled, and each confirmed their verdict.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, presiding over the trial, thanked the jurors for their service before they left the courtroom. The sentencing date for Bankman-Fried is set for March 28, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. There is a second trial scheduled for March 11, with the government given until February 1 to decide whether they intend to proceed with it.
In response to the verdict, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, released a statement indicating that Bankman-Fried “maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him.”
Key witnesses during the trial included Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend and former head of Alameda, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang, a childhood friend from math camp. Both had previously pleaded guilty to multiple charges and cooperated as witnesses for the prosecution. Bankman-Fried’s defense largely rested on his own testimony, where he argued that he had not committed fraud or misappropriated customer funds but had made business errors instead.