FTX crypto mogul convicted of fraud, faces max of 110 yrs in jail

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NEW YORK: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s spectacular rise and fall in the cryptocurrency industry – a journey that included his testimony before Congress, a Super Bowl advertisement and dreams of a future run for president – hit rock bottom Thursday when a New York jury convicted him of fraud for stealing at least $10 billion from customers and investors. After the monthlong trial, jurors rejected Bankman-Fried’s claim during testimony in Manhattan federal court that he never committed fraud or meant to cheat customers before FTX, once the world’s second-largest crypto exchange, collapsed into bankruptcy a year ago.The jury took just over four hours of deliberation to reach a verdict, convicting Bankman-Fried of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Together all the 7 counts carry a maximum sentence of 110 years. Bankman-Fried, 31, is expected to appeal. He’s scheduled to be sentenced March 28. Just a year ago, Bankman-Fried was worth more than $20 billion. FTX valued at $32 billion at its peak.Once the darling of the crypto world, Bankman-Fried – who was known for his mop of unkempt curly hair – joins the likes of admitted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and “Wolf of Wall Street” fraudster Jordan Belfort as notable people convicted of major US financial crimes. The verdict is a win for US attorney Damian Williams in the highest-profile criminal prosecution in the crypto world. Bankman-Fried “perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in US history,” Williams said after the verdict. “A multibillion dollar scheme designed to make him the King of Crypto.”Prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of three ex-members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, including his ex-girlfriend, to explain how he used Alameda Research, an affiliated hedge fund, to siphon billions of dollars from customer accounts at FTX. With that money, prosecutors said, the MIT graduate gained influence through investments, political contributions, and a publicity campaign that enlisted celebrities like football quarterback Tom Brady. According to the testimonies, he pursued ambitions to lead huge firms and run for US president someday. His ex-girlfriend said he thought he had a 5% chance to be president.

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