May 19, 2024

On Thursday, November 3, a New York Court convicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) of stealing from FTX customers, leading to the implosion of the crypto exchange. 

The former crypto mogul, aged 31 years, now faces a verdict that involved one of the biggest financial frauds worldwide.

Jury Makes A Verdict To Convict SBF For Multi-Count Charges

In the Manhattan Federal Court, a 12-member jury found SBF guilty on all seven counts against him. SBF has been tied to a month-long trial where the prosecutors laid out his involvement in customers’ lost funds and the implosion of the FTX exchange.

The prosecutors accused SBF of mismanaging customers’ money to offset losses at his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research. 

Also, the revealed SBF used about $8 billion of customers’ funds for personal investment, purchasing real estate in the Bahamas, and supporting US political campaigns through massive donations.

Further, SBF faces two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy on the stolen funds. Additionally, the prosecutors alleged that SBF concealed the information about Alameda borrowing massively from FTX from the exchange’s auditors. 

Instead, he manipulated the exchange’s financial statements to present fake records regarding his firm’s risk management to investors. Also, SBF faced accusations concerning his control over Caroline Ellison, Alameda’s former CEO in the operations of the crypto hedge fund.

They collaborated to mislead the firm’s credits regarding the funds it borrowed from FTX. The move between the duo was to ensure that the creditors didn’t recall their loans.

However, Ellison had owned up to their dirty deals through her testimonies at trial and pleaded guilty. 

SBF was arrested after the implosion of FTX, and the exchange filed for bankruptcy. The verdict is coming almost one year from the period of the FTX’s event that shook the financial markets and triggered several contagions and the collapse of exposed firms.

The jury arrived at its conclusion after four long hours of deliberations. However, SBF had pleaded not guilty as the verdict was read. However, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan scheduled the sentencing on SBF for March 28, 2024.

SBF Made His Defense While Prosecutors Celebrate A Victory

Despite all the accusations against him, Bankman-Fried still defended himself. He accepted some of his mistakes, like not having a risk management team, that impacted FTX customers and employees.

However, he maintained that he had no intention of defrauding or stealing funds from his companies. Also, some of his lawyers defended that his hedge fund, Alameda, was allowed to borrow from FTX customers. 

They claimed that SBF wasn’t aware of the gravity of Alameda’s debts to FTX until the issue blew up. SBF’s defense attorney, Mark Cohen, expressed disappointment in the outcome.

But mentioned that he still respected the jury’s verdict, although he reiterated the innocence of his client over the entire case.

Cohen said:

Mr. Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to fight the charges against him vigorously.

The court’s verdict was a victory for the prosecutors, such as the US Justice Department and the top federal prosecutor, Damian Williams. The latter had made eliminating corruption in financial markets a key focus.

Speaking after the verdict, Williams stated:

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.

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