Sam Bankman-Fried convicted in $8 Billion crypto fraud case

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, once a prominent figure in the cryptocurrency industry, was convicted on Thursday of stealing $8 billion from customers of his now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange. The 31-year-old former billionaire faced a 12-member jury in Manhattan federal court, which found him guilty on all seven counts he faced after a monthlong trial.

Prosecutors successfully argued that Bankman-Fried’s actions were driven by greed, leading to the looting of funds from the exchange’s users. This verdict comes almost a year after FTX filed for bankruptcy, causing a major upheaval in financial markets and erasing Bankman-Fried’s estimated $26 billion personal fortune.

Bankman-Fried, who had pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy, stood before the jury as the verdict was delivered, maintaining his composure despite the gravity of the situation. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has scheduled Bankman-Fried’s sentencing for March 28, 2024, and he could potentially face decades in prison.

This conviction represents a significant success for the U.S. Justice Department and Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, who has been actively pursuing corruption cases within financial markets. Williams emphasized the importance of holding individuals accountable for financial fraud, regardless of their prominence in emerging sectors like the cryptocurrency industry.

Once a celebrated figure in the crypto world, Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace now mirrors the likes of other notable individuals convicted of major U.S. financial crimes. As legal proceedings concluded, his defense lawyer, Mark Cohen, expressed disappointment with the verdict but stated that Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him.

Bankman-Fried’s legal challenges are far from over, as he is set to face a second set of charges next March, including alleged foreign bribery and bank fraud conspiracies.