Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty on all seven criminal fraud counts

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Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, arrives at court as lawyers push to persuade the judge overseeing his fraud case not to jail him ahead of trial, at a courthouse in New York, August 11, 2023.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

A jury has found Sam Bankman-Fried guilty of all seven criminal counts against him. The former FTX CEO faces a maximum sentence of 115 years in prison.

Bankman-Fried, the 31-year old son of two Stanford legal scholars and graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud against FTX customers and against Alameda Research lenders, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit commodities fraud against FTX investors, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The trial, which began in early October, pitted the testimony of Bankman-Fried’s former close friends and top lieutenants against the sworn statements of their former boss and ex-roommate. The jury returned a swift verdict after receiving the case at around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday and breaking for dinner at around 6 p.m.

The government’s key witnesses included Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and the former head of Alameda, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang, who was Bankman-Fried’s childhood friend from math camp. Both pleaded guilty in December to multiple charges and cooperated as witnesses for the prosecution.

The central question for jurors to consider was whether Bankman-Fried acted with criminal intent in taking customer funds from FTX and using that money to pay for real estate, venture investments, corporate sponsorships, political donations and to cover losses at Alameda.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos told the court in his closing argument on Wednesday, there was “no serious dispute” that $10 billion in customer money that was sitting in FTX’s crypto exchange went missing. The issue, he said, is whether Bankman-Fried knew that taking the money was wrong.

“The defendant schemed and lied to get money, which he spent,” Roos said.

In the absence of a successful appeal, Bankman-Fried now awaits sentencing. His case has been compared to that of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of medical device company Theranos, which ceased operations in 2018.

Holmes, 39, was convicted in early 2022 on four counts of defrauding investors in Theranos after testifying in her own defense. She was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, and began serving her punishment in May at a minimum-security facility in Bryan, Texas.

— CNBC’s Dawn Giel contributed to this report

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