Bankman-Fried was convicted after a month-long trial in which he was accused of stealing $8 billion from his crypto exchange users in one of the hugest financial fraud cases in history.
Manhattan federal prosecutor Damian Williams spoke to reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict: “The crypto industry might be new, the players like Sam Bankman-Fried may be new, but this kind of fraud is as old as time and we have no patience for it.”
The 31-year-old MIT graduate had pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy, however the jury reached their verdict after just over four hours of deliberation. The verdict marks nearly one year since FTX filed for bankruptcy.
Bankman-Fried is facing decades of jailtime, his sentence will be determined on March 28, 2024.
Bankman-Fried was accused by prosecutors of funneling funds from FTX to his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research. The money was used to make loans for Alameda executives who used over $100 million of it to fund political campaigns in an effort to boost crypto regulation in the US.
Towards the end of the trial, Bankman-Fried testified on his own behalf after former executives of his companies testified against him. Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and former FTX execs Gary Wang and Nishad Singh entered guilty pleas and stated that Bankman-Fried lied to lenders and investors, and directed them to steal from FTX customers.
Prosecutor Danielle Sassoon said to the jury: “He didn’t bargain for his three loyal deputies taking that stand and telling you the truth: that he was the one with the plan, the motive and the greed to raid FTX customer deposits – billions and billions of dollars – to give himself money, power, influence. He thought the rules did not apply to him. He thought that he could get away with it.”
In his testimony Bankman-Fried admitted to mismanagement in running the company, but denies looting FTX funds for his own gain. He claimed to believe that it was legal for Alameda to borrow from FTX and did not realise how his debt accumulated before the companies fell.
Bankman-Fried said in his statement to the jury: “We thought that we might be able to build the best product on the market. It turned out basically the opposite of that.”
Defence lawyer Mark Cohen stated that Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and that thy will continue to fight against the charges.
Prior to the trial Bankman-Fried was held in jail after US District Judge Lewis Kaplan revoked his bail due to suspected witness tampering.