The month-long trial has been an ordeal for Sam Bankman-Fried after some of his closest associates testified that he was key to all the decisions that saw $8 billion vanish from his FTX trading platform
New York (AFP) - Former crypto tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty Thursday by a New York jury on all seven counts of fraud, embezzlement and criminal conspiracy.
The panel reached its decision after five weeks of trial, and Bankman-Fried now faces up to 110 years behind bars.
Sentencing will take place at a later date.
The month-long federal trial had been an ordeal for Bankman-Fried after some of his closest associates testified that he was key to all the decisions that saw $8 billion vanish from his FTX trading platform.
Bankman-Fried, 31, was until late last year a poster-boy for the crypto industry and estimated to be worth $26 billion by Fortune magazine, before his empire collapsed spectacularly.
In closing arguments, prosecutors portrayed the defendant as an extremely smart man consumed by greed who knew what he was doing when FTX funds were secretly funneled to his personal hedge fund.
“Find him guilty,” US prosecutor Danielle Sassoon told the jury earlier on Thursday.
“He was ambitious” and had “the arrogance to think that he could get away with a fraud,” she added.
The defense said their client had acted in “good faith” and was overtaken by circumstances and the financial ineptitude of close associates who testified against him to gain leniency from prosecutors.
The star witness in the trial was Bankman-Fried’s former associate and on-and-off-again girlfriend Caroline Ellison who told the jury that they had stolen “around $14 billion” from clients of the FTX cryptocurrency trading platform before it collapsed into bankruptcy late last year.
The money was used to prop up Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s personal hedge fund for which he picked Ellison as CEO.
In November 2022, the FTX empire imploded, unable to cope with massive withdrawal requests from customers panicked to learn that some of FTX’s funds had been committed to risky operations by Alameda.
That money was used to finance venture capital deals, political contributions as well as swanky real estate in the Bahamas.
It also went toward paying tens of millions of dollars to celebrities, including Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, to gain their endorsement of FTX, as well as buying the naming rights for the Miami Heat’s home arena.