A jury has reached a verdict, finding one-time crypto magnate Sam Bankman-Fried guilty, as reported by multiple media outlets. This marks the dramatic conclusion to a nearly month-long trial held in Manhattan federal court.
The case was handed over to the jury on Thursday following closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense. Sam Bankman-Fried, the 31-year-old founder and former CEO of the now-defunct crypto exchange FTX, pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges, which included fraud and money laundering. FTX's collapse a year ago resulted in the loss of billions of dollars belonging to its customers.
Throughout the trial, nearly two-dozen individuals, including three of Bankman-Fried's closest associates, provided testimony. Prosecutors argued that Bankman-Fried misappropriated $10 billion from customers and utilized it for personal gains such as luxury real estate acquisitions, venture-capital investments, loan payments, and political contributions.
Deputy U.S. Attorney's Closing Statements
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos delivered impactful closing arguments to the jury on Wednesday, describing Bankman-Fried's actions as "a pyramid of deceit built on a foundation of lies and false promises." Roos further emphasized that the collapse of this pyramid left thousands of victims in its wake.
The Legal Battle of Bankman-Fried: Villain or Victim?
Defense lawyer Mark Cohen challenged the prosecution's portrayal of Bankman-Fried, asserting that they were attempting to cast him as a villain in order to hold him accountable for customer losses. Cohen argued that the prosecutors lacked the evidence to prove that Bankman-Fried had stolen billions of dollars from these individuals.
The prosecution presented excerpts of testimony from three former high-ranking associates of Bankman-Fried, who admitted to committing crimes under his direction. According to the prosecution, customer funds were transferred from FTX to Alameda Research, a related company. The key points of contention in this case revolve around whether Bankman-Fried had knowledge of these fund movements and whether he was aware of their illegitimacy.
"He took the money," declared Roos, a member of the prosecution team, before the jury. "He knew it was wrong. He did it anyway."
Cohen countered by emphasizing that making poor business decisions and mistakes is not a criminal act. He argued that the government had failed to demonstrate that Bankman-Fried had operated with criminal intent.
Legal expert Carl Tobias, from the esteemed University of Richmond School of Law, assessed the prosecution's strategy, suggesting that they chose to present Bankman-Fried as engaging in "garden-variety fraud" rather than as the mastermind of an intricate scheme.