After fewer than five hours of deliberations, a jury in New York found FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried guilty of defrauding customers of billions in his defunct cryptocurrency exchange, a result that could put him in prison for several decades, as Reuters reports.
The 31-year-old former financial industry phenom was found guilty on all seven counts against him, which included two fraud charges and five conspiracy charges.
Now that he has been convicted for masterminding what was characterized by the prosecution as among “the biggest financial frauds in American history,” Bankman-Fried could face a sentence of up to 115 years' imprisonment, as the Daily Mail explains.
The scene in the courtroom as the verdict was announced was described as intense, with the defendant said to have appeared “shellshocked” as each juror declared their agreement with the result.
After the verdict was finalized, Bankman-Fried reportedly sat back down in his chair and stared at his hands.
Also present in the courtroom were Bankman-Fried's parents, both law professors at Stanford University, who were said to have embraced upon learning their son's fate.
Barbara Fried, the defendant's mother, was observed battling back tears while sticking her fingers in her ears so as to take in no other information besides the verdict, and her husband, Joseph Bankman, was seen holding his head in his hands, perhaps in disbelief.
What was clearly a devastating moment for the Bankman-Fried family was, according to federal prosecutors, the only just outcome that could have been reached, given the sheer scope and audacity of the fraud involved.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that Bankman-Fried's fraud was historic in nature, noting that while the realm of cryptocurrency may be a novel development, the type of criminal conduct at issue in the case was “as old as time.”
Heralding the work involved in bringing Bankman-Fried to justice, Williams told reporters, “When I became U.S. attorney, I promised we would be relentless in rooting corruption in our financial markets.”
He went on, “This is what relentless looks like. This case moved at lightning speed. That was not a coincidence, that was a choice.”
Bankman-Fried's sentencing is currently slated for March 28, though his legal counsel has pledged to continue fighting “vigorously” on their client's behalf, presumably via an appeal.
Defense attorney Mark Cohen declared, “We respect the jury's decision. But we are very disappointed with the result. Mr. Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him.”
As if Bankman-Fried's situation as of Thursday was not bad enough, he is also facing the possibility of another trial next year on allegations of bribery and campaign finance violations, though prosecutors will determine early next year whether the costs of continued prosecution are in the public interest in light of yesterday's result.