FT Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Found Guilty in Massive Financial Fraud Case

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 11/02/2023
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, has been found guilty of engaging in a significant financial fraud that involved the misappropriation of billions of dollars from customers of the now-defunct crypto exchange. This conviction marks one of the largest financial fraud cases in the history of the United States, as stated by the prosecutors. 

The New York federal jury delivered a verdict that marked the culmination of the downfall of the former crypto king. This individual's charismatic and youthful appearance played a significant role in propelling FTX, a prominent trading platform, to great success. FTX sponsored sports teams and launched flashy advertisements featuring renowned figures such as Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, and Larry David. 

A year ago, the crypto exchange experienced an unexpected and sudden crash, resulting in significant financial losses for its customers amounting to billions of dollars. Sam Bankman-Fried, a 31-year-old individual, was indicted in December 2022 due to various fraud charges. As a result, he made the decision to depart from his residence in the Bahamas in order to confront these allegations. During the final stages of the monthlong trial, Bankman-Fried made a bold decision by choosing to testify in his own defense.

After entering the courtroom with a composed demeanor, the jurors efficiently arrived at their final decision following a brief period of deliberation that lasted only a few hours. He was found guilty of all seven charges that were brought against him. After the verdict was read, Bankman-Fried, the defendant, lowered his head in response as he stood before the jury. Both of his parents were visibly distressed, with their heads resting in their hands. The mother, overwhelmed by emotions, couldn't help but shed tears.

On March 28, 2024, a date was established for the sentencing process. If convicted, he may be sentenced to a prison term lasting several decades.

The federal prosecutors were not surprised by the verdict as they had presented a strong case supported by 18 witnesses.

Bankman-Fried, the subject of accusations by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, has been portrayed as a billionaire driven by greed. The allegations suggest that he engaged in deceptive practices, misleading customers, investors, and lenders. Furthermore, it is claimed that he indulged in a lavish lifestyle, frequently traveling on private jets and associating with both current and former heads of state. During the trial, prosecutors provided compelling evidence and testimonies that implicated Bankman-Fried as the mastermind behind a fraudulent plan. This scheme involved diverting funds from FTX, a financial institution, to settle the debts of its affiliated hedge fund, Alameda Research. Additionally, the evidence revealed that Bankman-Fried utilized these misappropriated funds to finance high-risk investments, acquire extravagant properties, and make substantial political contributions amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. 

During the trial, individuals who were once closely associated with Bankman-Fried appeared as witnesses on behalf of the government. They provided testimony stating that Bankman-Fried had instructed them to engage in illegal activities. These activities included covertly altering FTX's code to enable Alameda to borrow vast sums of money from the exchange without any limitations. During the trial, Caroline Ellison, who is both the government's key witness and Bankman-Fried's former girlfriend, testified that she was the chief executive of Alameda. She revealed that Bankman-Fried instructed her to manipulate the balance sheets in order to deceive the hedge fund's lenders. She expressed that the continuous acts of lying and stealing had caused her to experience a persistent feeling of fear and anxiety. 

According to Bankman-Fried's legal team, their argument aimed to challenge the portrayal of their client as a movie villain, instead emphasizing his identity as a math enthusiast and ambitious entrepreneur. They asserted that Bankman-Fried's intentions were solely focused on establishing a successful business within a burgeoning industry. The lawyer, Mark Cohen, addressed the jury by highlighting the distinction between the real world and the world portrayed in movies. He emphasized that in reality, situations can become complicated and chaotic. 

Bankman-Fried's choice to testify in court seemed to be his sole opportunity to alter the course of the trial. 

The jury was comprised of a total of twelve individuals, with nine being women and three being men. The age range of the jury members spanned from 33 years old to 68 years old. The jury panel consists of individuals with diverse professional backgrounds, including a former investment banker, a high school librarian, and an unemployed social worker.

The case against the defendant was constructed by the prosecutors, who relied heavily on the testimonies of Ellison and two additional individuals who were part of Bankman-Fried's close-knit group. These witnesses willingly collaborated with the prosecutors after admitting their guilt in relation to charges of fraud and various other offenses. The accounts of the trio were supported by contemporaneous documents and Signal chats, which were presented as evidence by the prosecutors to the jury. Bankman-Fried was identified by all three individuals as the main orchestrator behind the fraudulent activities. They alleged that he took deliberate measures to conceal his involvement, such as employing an auto-delete feature on messaging applications to erase any incriminating evidence. 


During his testimony, Bankman-Fried refuted any involvement in Alameda's operation subsequent to appointing Ellison and another employee as co-CEOs in the summer of 2021. According to his testimony, the individual became aware of Alameda's extensive utilization of customer funds in the autumn of 2022. At FTX, he had mentioned that he played a significant role in high-level decision-making, while his deputies primarily operated with a considerable degree of autonomy.

During cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon thoroughly examined the testimony of the individual in question. She aimed to challenge his claim of being a hands-off boss by scrutinizing various aspects of his statements. One such example was his explanation for not cutting his hair, which she used to highlight potential inconsistencies in his responses. The jurors were captivated by the tense exchanges that occurred between Sassoon and Bankman-Fried.


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