Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty in landmark crypto trial

A jury found the former FTX CEO guilty of 7 counts in his fraud trial

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Artwork by Crystal Le

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Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty on all seven counts on Thursday.

The 12-person jury found the former executive guilty after a month-long trial where the prosecution presented nearly 17 witnesses to the defense’s three, with Bankman-Fried himself taking the stand. FTX co-founder Gary Wang, former head of engineering Nishad Singh and former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison testified against their former colleague.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 28. A hearing will be held where Judge Lewis Kaplan — who oversaw the entirety of Bankman-Fried’s trial — will decide on his sentence. The former executive faces a maximum sentence of 115 years.

Prior to jury deliberations, Bankman-Fried’s testimony — which lasted four days — was peppered by statements like “I don’t recall” and “I don’t remember.” He was chided more than once by Judge Lewis Kaplan who reminded him to answer the questions asked

Parts of Bankman-Fried’s testimony contradicted what Ellison told the court, including that she mocked up seven different Alameda balance sheets — at Bankman-Fried’s behest — and shared them with him. 

Bankman-Fried, however, claimed no such recollection and said he wasn’t even sure that Ellison sent him the document. Google metadata, prosecutors said, showed him opening it.

Ultimately, Bankman-Fried’s testimony fell back on blaming those who worked for him. 

The prosecution, in their case, painted Sam Bankman-Fried as being a very present — perhaps at times too present — boss who was aware of the moves and decisions his lieutenants made. 

The justice system isn’t done with Sam Bankman-Fried

The wins for the defense weren’t as evident during the prosecution’s case, though Bankman-Fried’s lawyers were able to score a win when Singh was on the stand in getting the former engineering head to admit that he knew he had to repay Alameda for the loans issued so he could make political donations. Singh pleaded guilty to a campaign finance-related charge.

This isn’t the end of the legal road for Bankman-Fried, however, as he still faces a charge related to campaign finance from the Department of Justice. While it had been included in the original eight-count indictment, the Bahamas declined to extradite Bankman-Fried on the charge so it was dropped in July.

In August, however, prosecutors alleged that Sam Bankman-Fried used around $100 million in stolen funds for political donations. 

While the aforementioned testimony was admissible during the trial, Judge Kaplan made it clear to the jury that Bankman-Fried was not facing the charge as part of the current case.

The verdict arrives near the first anniversary of FTX’s collapse. The company is still in bankruptcy proceedings.


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