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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is guilty of fraud

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.

  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 18, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    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.


  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 18, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    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.

    But in order to tie Sam Bankman-Fried to the cell phone number, CoinDesk reports how the prosecution picked perhaps the funniest possible email: the Bahamian Prime Minister asking for a favor.


    Screenshot of an email from Bahamaian government official: “Sam, my son Christopher is being engaged as a consultant for an NFT entity that is considering your platform. grateful if you were to take a call to discuss. my son is copied on this email, thanks.”
    Image: DOJ
  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 18, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense finally woke up

    Photo illustration of Sam Bankman-Fried on a background of pixels and hundred dollar bills.
    A good day for the defense!
    Photo illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photo by Bloomberg, Getty Images

    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. 

    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. 

    Read Article >
  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 16, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    Sam Bankman-Fried was a bad friend, too

    Photo illustration of Sam Bankman-Fried on a background of cryptocurrency dissolving into pixels.
    What, me worry?
    Photo illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photos by Westend61 and Bloomberg, Getty Images

    In September 2022, when he found out that Alameda had been using FTX customer funds, Nishad Singh said he asked to speak with the founder of Alameda and the CEO of FTX. They were both, of course, Sam Bankman-Fried. Singh and Bankman-Fried met on the balcony of the penthouse they shared in the Bahamas, which was spacious enough to include a pool, around 8PM or 9PM local time. As Bankman-Fried sprawled in a white chaise lounge, Singh paced anxiously. 

    “I’m not sure what there is to worry about,” Bankman-Fried told Singh, according to Singh’s court testimony today.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 16, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    FTX’s former head of engineering Nishad Singh is testifying against Sam Bankman-Fried.

    The FTX fraud trial continues, now with testimony from Singh, who’d owned 7.8 percent of the company and pleaded guilty to fraud charges in February.

    He’s admitted on the stand to committing fraud and campaign finance violations in a conspiracy with SBF, Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, FTX CTO Gary Wang, and others.


  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 16, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    Sam Bankman-Fried on the stand?

    There’s a Sunday evening filing from the defense team (PDF) in SBF’s fraud trial.

    Turns out Bankman-Fried still doesn’t have access to his prescribed medication, which seems lousy. But that’s not the part that interests me. This is (emphasis mine, obviously):

    However, as we approach the defense case and the critical decision of whether Mr. Bankrnan-Fried will testify, the defense has a growing concern that because of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lack of access to Adderall he has not been able to concentrate at the level he ordinarily would and that he will not be able to meaningfully participate in the presentation of the defense case.


    However, as we approach the defense case and the critical decision of whether Mr. Bankrnan-Fried will testify, the defense has a growing concem that because of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lack of access to Adderall he has not been able to concentrate at the level he ordinarily would and that he will not be able to meaningfully participate in the presentation of the defense case.
    That high-pitched noise you just heard was hundreds of journalists shrieking
  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 13, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Listen in to that infamous Alameda Research all-hands meeting.

    Questions from Sam Bankman-Fried’s own lawyers allowed jurors to hear snippets recorded from a November 2022 all-hands Days before SBF resigned and the company filed for bankruptcy, Caroline Ellison admitted to employees that Alameda took customer money from SBF’s other big business, the FTX crypto exchange.

    Ellison, SBF, and several others were aware of the scheme, she told the employees. Instead of the snippets jurors heard, Insider has posted the entire thing on SoundCloud, and this link will take you directly to the relevant segment.

    You can click here to follow all of our updates from Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial.


  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 12, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    How is it still getting worse for Sam Bankman-Fried?

    Photo Illustration of Caroline Ellison in front of a graphic background of pixels and soapy money.
    Caroline Ellison didn’t crack under pressure. Granted, she wasn’t under that much pressure.
    Photo Illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photo by Bloomberg, Agustina Torres, Getty Images

    In the break after Caroline Ellison stepped down from the stand, Barbara Fried engaged defense lawyer Christian Everdell in an animated conversation. Fried, the defendant’s mother, was gesticulating and clearly had a strong opinion about something. Everdell walked off, and Mark Cohen talked to her for a bit after that.

    Fried seemed frustrated, and I couldn’t blame her. The defense absolutely biffed the cross-examination of Ellison and, to make matters worse was unable to keep a recording of an all-hands meeting where Ellison confessed to taking customer funds from being played for the jury. Is this really the best the defense can do?

    Read Article >
  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 11, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    Alameda’s paper trail leads straight to Sam Bankman-Fried

    Photo Illustration of Caroline Ellison in front of a graphic background a tangled wired and pixels.
    Her ex-boyfriend told her not to write anything down she wouldn’t want to see in The New York Times, then leaked her love notes to The New York Times.
    Photo Illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photo by Michael M. Santiago, PM Images, Getty Images

    Sam Bankman-Fried wasn’t just a crypto wunderkind, he was an ambassador for improving the world through effective altruism. And if you were wondering how he squared those values with all the lying he allegedly did during his time at FTX, wonder no more: the answer is utilitarianism. 

    Lying and stealing were permitted, as “the only moral rule that mattered would be maximal utility,” Caroline Ellison testified on her second day at Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial. I glanced over at his parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, to see what they made of this; both appeared to be busy scribbling into legal pads. In any case, the approach apparently worked for much of Bankman-Fried’s life — right up to demanding doctored balance sheets for the company Ellison supposedly ran. 

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 11, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Sam Bankman-Fried wanted to buy Snapchat.

    That’s one of the things mentioned during the ongoing testimony of former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison against her terrible ex-boyfriend, as well as the idea SBF sought to have regulators “crack down on Binance,” the competing crypto exchange that sparked the run that took FTX down.

    You can expect more updates from Wednesday’s events in the Sam Bankman-Fried / FTX fraud trial to come later today.


  • Elizabeth Lopatto

    Oct 10, 2023

    Elizabeth Lopatto

    Sam Bankman-Fried was a terrible boyfriend

    Photo illustration of Caroline Ellison on a graphic orange and green background of pixels and money.
    She didn’t even get equity!
    Photo illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photos by Bloomberg, Getty Images

    I’ve got some shitty ex-boyfriends, but none of them made me the CEO of their sin-eater hedge fund while refusing to give me equity and bragging about how there was a 5 percent chance they’d become the president of the United States, you know? Absolutely counting my blessings after Caroline Ellison’s first day on the stand. I wonder how many of the nine women on the jury are doing the same.

    Ellison was the head of Alameda Research, the aforementioned hedge fund, during the implosion of it and FTX. She’s already pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from one of the worst romantic relationships I’ve ever heard of, and her testimony was widely anticipated before the trial. Today, that took the form of discussing a damning spreadsheet — one she prepared for her ex and boss Sam Bankman-Fried, now the defendant in a criminal fraud trial. 

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 10, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Maybe it’s the new haircut?

    Sam Bankman-Fried reportedly is sporting a jailhouse haircut during his fraud trial over FTX’s failure, and observers, including this NPR reporter and CNBC, note that his ex, Caroline Ellison, needed a little time to find him in the courtroom.

    According to CNBC and the New York Times, once her testimony began, she wasted little time:

    “Sam directed me to commit these crimes,” she said. He “directed us to take customer money to pay loans.”

    Expect a full report from Liz Lopatto later today.


  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 10, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    He’s over there...

    Former Alameda Research CEO and ex-girlfriend of Sam Bankman-Fried Caroline Ellison has begun testifying in the fraud trial against SBF.


  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 10, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    True, yet misleading.

    On the stand today during Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial, Gary Wang dove into his evolving explanation of the infamous (and now-deleted) SBF tweet saying that “FTX is fine. Assets are fine,” that he posted the day before Binance’s acquisition announcement, which is when things truly came apart.


  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 10, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    The Sam Bankman-Fried fraud trial continues.

    The Verge reporter Liz Lopatto is back in a New York City courtroom today, as Sam Bankman-Fried’s friends turned cooperating witnesses continue to take the stand in the case against the fallen FTX boss.

    We broke down FTX CTO Gary Wang's testimony / code review on Friday, and today the case restarted with him still on the stand, and former Alameda CEO and SBF ex Caroline Ellison is expected to make her appearance later today. Stay tuned here for all of the latest updates from the crypto exchange fraud trial.


  • FTX liquidation could further hurt crypto startups.

    Before they collapsed, FTX and Alameda Research “massed a roster of portfolio companies that included major names in the industry, such as stablecoin providers Circle and Paxos, blockchain developer Aptos Labs and crypto bank Anchorage Digital,” Bloomberg writes.

    But venture funding for the crypto world has plunged; selling those stakes could further depress startup valuations.


  • Michael Lewis would like Sam Bankman-Fried’s jury to read his book.

    “If I were a juror, I would rather hear my story than either defense or prosecution,” Lewis tells Andrew Chow at Time. Also:

    I want to ask about some details that appeared in various charging documents and complaints against Sam but are featured less prominently or not at all in your book. One is that Bankman-Fried allegedly bribed Chinese officials to release money from a frozen Alameda account.

    I know too much about that, and it seemed like a distraction.


  • The FTX jury suffers through a code review

    Photo illustration of Sam Bankman Fried on a background of a glitch style hundred dollar bill graphic.
    What did Gary Wang commit?
    Photo Illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge

    As a result of today’s testimony, I am both more and less confused. I am clearer on what probably happened at FTX. What I don’t understand is why Gary Wang did it.

    Wang was the co-founder and chief technology officer of FTX, as well as the co-founder of Alameda Research. He owned only 10 percent of Alameda and 17 percent of FTX. He got a $200,000 a year salary, with no performance bonuses. (Okay, sure, at times he was a billionaire on paper.) By contrast, Bankman-Fried owned 90 percent of Alameda and 65 percent of FTX.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Oct 6, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Former FTX CTO Gary Wang is on the stand.

    The government’s prosecution of Sam Bankman-Fried continues where it left off Thursday, with another former college roommate and alleged co-conspirator testifying against the former FTX CEO about exactly how all that customer money ended up being used for SBF’s other interests.

    You can read up on all of the details about the missing billions right here, ahead of another trial update later today from The Verge’s Liz Lopatto, who is in the courtroom right now.


  • Was Sam Bankman-Fried’s bean bag chair a lie too?

    Photo illustration of Sam Bankman-Fried on a graphic background of currency symbols and arrows.
    Choose your college roommates carefully...
    Photo illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photo by Drew Angerer, Getty Images

    The difficult part of a fraud case is usually establishing a defendant knowingly lied — unless, apparently, the defendant is Sam Bankman-Fried.

    Today the government has made a brisk case for one count in the indictment and is close to making a case for a second one, as two of Bankman-Fried’s college roommates testified against him. We also heard about Bankman-Fried’s love life and bean bag chair.

    Read Article >
  • Kevin Nguyen

    Oct 5, 2023

    Kevin Nguyen

    Full court press.

    Liz Lopatto is on the ground, covering the Sam Bankman-Fried trial. But if you want even more curly-haired crypto baby in your life, our pals at New York will be reporting it out in their excellent newsletter Court Appearances.


  • SBF Day 3: Bankman-Fried’s roommate’s testimony continues.

    I expect to hear a lot more about that expensive Bahamas penthouse during today’s hearings in the case of the former FTX CEO, and possibly some fireworks on the cross, as Adam Yedidia is immunized from prosecution.


  • Is Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense even trying to win?

    Photo illustration of Sam Bankman Fried on a background of pixels and handcuffs.
    Even the defense’s opening statement was a bad look for Sam Bankman-Fried
    Photo Illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge

    I have never seen Sam Bankman-Fried so still as he was during the prosecution’s opening statement. The characteristic leg-jiggling was absent. He barely moved as the prosecutor listed the evidence against him: internal company files, what customers were told, the testimony of his co-conspirators and his own words.

    His hair was shorn, the result of a haircut from a fellow prisoner, the Wall Street Journal reported. He wore a suit bought at a discount at Macy’s, per the Journal; it hung on him. He appeared to have lost some weight.

    Read Article >
  • Sarah Jeong

    Oct 4, 2023

    Sarah Jeong

    Dogecoin shows up in court.

    Per Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, a witness in the ongoing Sam Bankman-Fried trial had to spell out “D-O-G-E” in response to a question from a prosecutor. It doesn’t look like there were any follow-up questions about a cryptocurrency based on a meme. It’s probably for the best.


  • David Pierce

    Oct 4, 2023

    David Pierce

    Today on The Vergecast: Big Tech goes to court.

    The government is in the middle of a trial with Google, heading toward one with Amazon, and in general trying to change the way we think about monopolies. Also: Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial has begun, and it has already been eventful. All that, and an ebook debate, on the flagship podcast of the Sherman Act.