Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been found guilty of seven counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Bankman-Fried founded FTX because he was frustrated with other exchanges used by his crypto trading firm Alameda Research, according to a profile from FTX investors Sequoia Capital. But FTX was a fraud “from the start,” the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges.
Bankman-Fried was accused of misappropriating and embezzling FTX customer deposits, according to the superseding indictment. According to the indictment, despite “spending millions of dollars to promote FTX and its sister company FTX.US as safe places to invest in cryptocurrency... FTX’s finances contained a multi-billion-dollar deficiency caused by his own misappropriation of customer funds from the exchange.” The customer money was used by Bankman-Fried to, variously, make billions of dollars of investments, buy $200 million of real estate, and repay Alameda’s lenders, according to the indictment.
The entire scheme came to light after CoinDesk published a blockbuster article about Alameda’s balance sheet. It showed that FTX and Alameda were very closely linked and that a lot of the balance sheet consisted of the FTT token, which was issued by FTX. That article led to Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao — a former investor in FTX — saying he would sell his holdings of FTT. FTX’s bankruptcy and Bankman-Fried’s resignation from the company followed.
One year to the day after CoinDesk reported on the balance sheet, a New York jury returned a guilty verdict against Bankman-Fried on all of the charges he faced.
You can follow along below for all the latest updates and regular updates from the trial.
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- In the end, the FTX trial was about the friends screwed along the way
- The tragically millennial vocabulary of the Sam Bankman-Fried trial
Nov 11What could possibly go wrong, again?
Following a jury's conviction of former FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried on fraud charges, the Wall Street Journal reports that several former FTX employees, including former general counsel Can Sun, are involved in launching a new cryptocurrency exchange based on Dubai.
Sun and Ferrante said they wanted to use the lessons they learned from FTX’s failure to protect user funds. Backpack Exchange, the name under which Trek Labs will do business, will use Backpack’s technology to allow users to hold funds in their own “self-custody” crypto wallets that the exchange itself wouldn’t be able to unilaterally access, they said.
Nov 10“$8 billion is a lot of money.”
With this stage of Sam Bankman-Fried’s big crypto fraud trial over after the jury found the former FTX boss guilty, The Verge reporter Elizabeth Lopatto joined the Crypto Critics’ Corner podcast to discuss everything that went on in the courtroom.
Along with hosts Bennett Tomlin and Cas Piancey, they discuss not only the trial’s final moments but also what’s next for SBF.
Nov 7Ask us anything: Liz Lopatto and CoinDesk’s Danny Nelson answer your questions about the Sam Bankman-Fried trial at 4PM New York time.
We’ve got the goss on early wake-ups, lawyer fashion, courtroom sketches, and other pressing matters. Go ahead and leave a question here if you’ve got one... [Arnold voice] I’ll be back.
During Sam Bankman-Fried’s monthlong fraud trial, prosecutors presented damning evidence that the fallen crypto founder knew full well what he was doing from the beginning. He knew that Alameda Research borrowed billions in customer funds from FTX. He knew his fellow executives fabricated balance sheets to send to lenders. He knew FTX wasn’t fine when he told customers it was.Read Article >
In cryptoland, the response to these revelations was largely to condemn Bankman-Fried and FTX as an aberration. When the truth about FTX came out, Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao slammed Bankman-Fried, saying he “lied to everyone.” Similarly, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “even the most gullible person should not believe Sam’s claim” that the missing funds stemmed from an accounting error.
The jury took a little over four hours to reach a verdict. When Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, the defendant’s parents, came into the courtroom, they looked frightened. Bankman put his arm around Fried as they sat down on the wooden benches. Fried put her head in her hands.Read Article >
Sam Bankman-Fried stood to hear the jury’s verdict. After the first “guilty” was read aloud — for wire fraud — his father doubled over. His mother’s hands rose to cover much of her face, either to stifle tears or to hide them. As the judge thanked the jury for their service, Barbara Fried recovered herself enough to gently rub Joseph Bankman’s back.
Former cryptocurrency kingpin Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty of fraud. A New York jury delivered the verdict on November 2nd, concluding a trial that has seen Bankman-Fried defend himself against claims that he criminally mismanaged his crypto exchange FTX and trading firm Alameda Research.Read Article >
After more than a month in trial, the jury took four and a half hours to decide Bankman-Fried’s fate, declaring him guilty on all seven charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is set to be sentenced by Judge Lewis Kaplan on March 28th of next year and faces decades in prison.
Nov 2The jury in the Sam Bankman-Fried / FTX fraud trial has reached a verdict.
The jury only started deliberating a few hours ago, but after all of the testimony and evidence, they notified court officials they reached a verdict, as former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried faces seven charges, including wire fraud. We’ll have their decision here as soon as it is available.
According to a report from CNBC, the media will see it in about 10 minutes.
Nov 2Jurors have begun deliberating Bankman-Fried’s fate.
The 12-person jury will decide whether Bankman-Fried is guilty of seven criminal charges, including two counts of wire fraud. If convicted, Bankman-Fried faces over 100 years in prison.
The Verge’s Elizabeth Lopatto has been tracking the case from the courtroom, and from what she’s seen so far, it doesn’t look like Bankman-Fried’s defense has brought too many convincing arguments to the table:
The closing arguments made clear was how lopsided the case was. Bankman-Fried’s defense appears to be that he is a nice boy who would never do anything to hurt anyone on purpose... Bankman-Fried is right to be frightened. He brought excuses. The prosecution brought receipts.
Let’s be honest: The facts are bad for Sam Bankman-Fried. The prosecution, in the closing statement delivered by Nicolas Roos (pronounced “Rose”, though he won’t correct you if you get it wrong, as Judge Lewis Kaplan did for most of the trial) today, went through a lot of contemporaneous written evidence that suggested that Bankman-Fried was very, very guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy charges at FTX. Roos gave a confident, restrained argument, relying heavily on that evidence to argue Bankman-Fried had used FTX customer deposits as his own private piggy bank, funneling them through his trading firm, Alameda Research.Read Article >
He also pointed to why Bankman-Fried had done it: “The defendant was greedy.”
Nov 1“...getting caught in a lie by a judge is very bad.”
That’s what experienced litigator Mitchell Epner wrote about this incident during the cross-examination of Sam Bankman-Fried. Elizabeth Lopatto’s summary of SBF’s final day of testimony captures it as part of being “vivisected” on the stand.
It was not until Judge Lewis Kaplan intervened to ask if Bankman-Fried had ever been told by Yedidia about that money, in words or in substance, that Bankman-Fried admitted he’d been told.
Trying to worm his way past tough questions by answering a slightly different question doesn’t seem to work as well for SBF in court as it did with investors and interviewers.
Let’s say I am the owner of a hedge fund, and one fine June day, my employees come to me and say, “Hey, Liz, we have an accounting problem. We are missing several billion dollars.” How would I react?Read Article >
I have been wondering this since Danielle Sassoon walked Sam Bankman-Fried through his reaction to the FTX software bug fixed by Adam Yedidia. In my case, there would probably be shouting? Like, a lot of shouting. I would also probably have my assistant figure out which law enforcement agency to call immediately. Misplacing $900 million is a five-alarm fire even for Citibank; misplacing several billion is kicking over a lantern in Chicago in 1871.
Oct 31The defense rests.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers are done calling witnesses in the big FTX fraud case over the cryptocurrency exchange’s collapse last year. The lawyers are likely preparing to make their closing arguments, and Elizabeth Lopatto will have more reports from the courtroom later today, following last night’s story on all the things SBF conveniently doesn’t remember.
Midway through Sam Bankman-Fried’s cross examination, as prosecutor Danielle Sassoon went through a brutal line of questioning like a hot buzzsaw through a butter cow, I found myself reflecting on how smart the average person is. Maybe they don’t know calculus. Maybe they’ll never read Ulysses. Maybe they can’t code. But they definitely know how to identify bullshit when they see it.Read Article >
So if you, like Bankman-Fried, have moved into the Clintonian territory of “it depends on how you define ‘trading’’” you done fucked up, son. Make whatever “sophisticated” argument you like; even the stupid will see through it.
It is honestly kind of incredible to watch a man torpedo his own credibility on direct testimony. We’re not even at the cross yet, and the judge has already instructed him to answer the question he’s being asked by his own lawyer.Read Article >
The jury is watching all of this intently.
- “I did not want FTX to be known as the Kansas City Royals of crypto exchanges.”
He was explaining the advantage of marketing his exchange by buying stadium naming rights instead of Facebook or Google ads, and why he picked the Miami Heat’s arena over several others... and allegedly paid for the deal with FTX customer funds.Update from J. Edward Moreno
[The New York Times]
- Sam Bankman-Fried is back on the stand.
However, unlike yesterday’s testimony, the jury members who will rule on the multiple fraud accusations he’s facing are present too. As Elizabeth Lopatto reports, what he’s said so far shows his defense is going to rely on an argument that he was operating on the advice of his lawyers, and we have some guesses about how well that might work out.
Sam Bankman-Fried is so fucked.Read Article >
I have come to court every day since opening arguments thinking, Surely things cannot get worse for this man. Surely we have reached the bottom. Unfortunately, there is no bottom — in the prosecution’s telling, FTX and Alameda Research, his exchange and trading company, were matryoshka dolls of crime. Today, the defense started its case, which should theoretically present Bankman-Fried in a better light. But if what I saw of him on the stand is any indication, he may be more damning for himself than any of the prosecution’s witnesses.
Sure, Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial has revealed that FTX was basically a seething mass of scams. But it has also revealed how Bankman-Fried blew up the lives of the people who are closest to him.Read Article >
Of course everyone who had money trapped on the FTX exchange when it collapsed — as the result of Bankman-Fried’s trading firm Alameda Research purloining its customers’ funds — had their lives altered. Even if they are made whole by the bankruptcy proceedings, that’s still money that they should have had access to at any time they wanted it. That may mean houses that weren’t purchased, medical procedures that were left undone, and life savings lost.
Sam Bankman-Fried will testify at his criminal fraud trial on Thursday as he faces charges of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering related to his failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX.Read Article >
During a conference call on Wednesday, attorney Mark Cohen confirmed Bankman-Fried will take the stand. The move isn’t much of a surprise, considering the time Bankman-Fried spent speaking on his own behalf between the collapse of FTX last year and his eventual arrest last December.
It is one thing to type the world YOLO, jokingly, on Beyoncé’s internet. It is another thing entirely to hear it explained in a court of law. The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried has been, in its vocabulary, tragically millennial. (Disclosure: I am also a millennial.)Read Article >
Christian Drappi, a former Alameda software engineer, was put in the position of explaining YOLO — “you only live once” — as well as the phrase “a YOLO thing” to anyone who might be unfamiliar. He was testifying about a recording of an Alameda all-hands meeting in which Caroline Ellison, then the CEO of Alameda, confessed to taking FTX customer funds. In the recording, Drappi said “I’m sure this wasn’t, like, a YOLO thing” in response to the confession.
Oct 20I have been standing in line for the SBF trial with a man named Taco.
The mix in the courtroom for the Sam Bankman-Fried / FTX trial has been reporters, occasional members of the general public, curious lawyers, crypto influencers... and one very devoted degen. Fellow line-stander David Yaffe-Bellany profiles Taco, who politely refused to tell me his government name.Crypto Influencers and ‘Degenerates’ Flock to Sam Bankman-Fried’s Trial
[The New York Times]
- SBF Trial, day uhhhh 10? I think it’s 10 if we don’t count jury selection.
We are very close to the end of the prosecution’s case, and today was pretty uneventful. I will be writing a wrap of some of the financial testimony shortly, but if you can’t wait, the talented reporters at CoinDesk have been doing all-hands-on-deck coverage.
- Fun Easter egg in FBI agent’s testimony today!
The majority of FBI agent Richard Busik’s testimony seemed geared toward establishing jurisdiction — he was explaining cell phone pings that occurred in New York City — so I left it out of my recap.
Of Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged co-conspirators, Nishad Singh gave the most emotionally compelling testimony. And on cross-examination, he also proved to be the most unreliable.Read Article >
Yesterday, Singh condemned Bankman-Fried for continuing to make venture investments despite knowing the money came from customer funds, even calling the actions taken at FTX “evil.” Today, the defense pointed out that Singh took out a loan from FTX in order to buy a $3.7 million house on Orcas Island in Washington after Singh says he found out about the misuse of customer funds.