FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy Thursday.
Jurors in Manhattan deliberated for less than five hours before convicting Bankman-Fried on each of the counts related to the collapse of FTX — once the world’s second-largest crypto exchange — and the theft of approximately $10 billion worth of customer funds.
By comparison, the jurors in Elizabeth Holmes’ criminal fraud trial, which involved the blood-testing company Theranos, reached a verdict after seven days of deliberations.
During the month-long trial, New York jurors heard testimony from Bankman-Fried, his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, and other members of his inner circle. However, after listening to testimony for four days, jurors were seemingly unsympathetic to Bankman-Fried’s claims that he never committed fraud or intended to harm his company’s customers.
To Bloomberg legal analyst June Grasso, the trial results were “not a surprise.” She said the evidence against Bankman-Fried was “overwhelming.”
Grasso explained that when Bankman-Fried took the stand in his own defense, the whole thing in the jury’s mind became about credibility.
“The only thing that would have saved him was if he convinced one juror or two jurors that he didn’t have fraudulent intent. That obviously didn’t happen,” she said, per Bloomberg Law.
Bankman-Fried faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the seven charges — meaning he faces over 100 years in prison if U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan decides to max out sentencing.
Grasso said she believes Bankman-Fried is likely only going to spend between 10 and 20 years in prison.
This is a warning “to every single fraudster out there who thinks they are untouchable, or that their crimes are too complex for us to catch,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement outside the courthouse on Thursday, per CNN Business.
“These players like Sam Bankman-Fried might be new, but this kind of fraud, this kind of corruption is as old as time,” said Williams. “Those folks should think again and cut it out. If you don’t, I promise we’ll have enough handcuffs for all of them.”
Judge Kaplan set Bankman-Fried’s sentencing date for March 28, 2024.
In response to the jury’s verdict, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, said in a statement that the defense respected the jury’s decision but was “very disappointed with the result.”
“Mr. Bankman Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him,” said Cohen, according to Fox 4 KDFW.
According to Grasso, Bankman-Fried and his legal team will likely use the time before March 28 to file the necessary paperwork to appeal the criminal conviction. However, she said criminal convictions are extremely hard to overturn and that the judge was unlikely to be swayed.