Sam Bankman-Fried, 31, once hailed as the crypto currency whiz kid and founder of FTX crypto-currency exchange, was convicted on Thursday on seven charges of fraud and conspiracy after a month-long trial that laid bare the complex maze and rampant risk-taking across the crypto industry.
Maximum sentence of 110 years
A jury of nine women and three men took just over four hours of deliberation on Thursday to reach a verdict, convicting Bankman-Fried of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Together the counts carry a maximum sentence of 110 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.
The verdict caps a yearlong saga that took the tousle-haired mogul of crypto currency from a penthouse apartment in the Bahamas to a shared cell in one of New York's most notorious detention centres. The trial was closely watched by regulators, investors and the crypto community for signs of a potential larger crackdown on the largely unregulated crypto market.
Bankman-Fried became a symbol of cryptos excesses last year when FTX collapsed and he was charged with stealing as much as $10 billion from customers to finance political contributions, venture capital investments and other extravagant spending.
One of the fastest & most spectacular falls from grace in modern corporate history
In the style of Indian fugitive Nirav Modi, Bankman-Fried once partied with stars and big shots, doled out fortunes in looted funds to politicians and himself, was acclaimed as the next Warren Buffett, employed his friends and made them rich for a while, and was courted by the news media that printed his most banal comments.
For a time, everyone loved Sam Bankman-Fried with the apparent exception of Sam Bankman-Fried himself. According to NYT, the verdict capped one of the fastest and most spectacular falls from grace in modern corporate history. Just a year ago, Bankman was worth more than $20 billion and hailed as a rare good guy in the freewheeling crypto industry, his face plastered on billboards and magazine covers.
FTX, valued at $32 billion at its peak, was one of the worlds biggest marketplaces for people to buy and sell digital coins like Bitcoin and Ether. Crypto enthusiasts, many of whom openly rooted for Bankman-Fried, had said they hoped his conviction would provide a moment of catharsis that would allow the industry to move on from a scandal-plagued year. But critics cast the verdict as a sign that the industry may face more legal consequences as it struggles to regain public trust.