Sam Bankman-Fried convicted of defrauding cryptocurrency customers

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Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty of defrauding customers of his cryptocurrency exchange out of billions of dollars. The 31-year-old could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison after stealing money from clients of FTX. A Manhattan jury convicted him on all seven counts after a month-long trial. FTX collapsed last November, shocking financial markets and wiping out the crypto tycoon’s estimated $26bn (£21bn) wealth. Bankman-Fried – who denied two counts of fraud and five of conspiracy – clasped his hands together as the verdict was delivered. He admitted “mistakes” in running FTX when he testified last week, but insisted he didn’t steal his customers’ money. Prosecutors claimed he used the funds for risky bets at his hedge fund Alameda Research – with a huge financial black hole emerging when crypto markets fell sharply. FTX abruptly halted withdrawals last November and crypto’s second-largest exchange went bankrupt. Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace has seen him compared to well-known financial fraudsters Bernie Madoff and ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Jordan Belfort. “He didn’t bargain for his three loyal deputies taking that stand and telling you the truth: that he was the one with the plan, the motive and the greed to raid FTX customer deposits – billions and billions of dollars – to give himself money, power, influence,” prosecutor Danielle Sassoon told the jury on Thursday. “He thought the rules did not apply to him. He thought that he could get away with it.” Alameda’s former CEO Caroline Ellison and former FTX executives Gary Wang and Nishad Singh gave evidence against Bankman-Fried after pleading guilty. They said he’d told them to help Alameda loot funds from FTX and lie to lenders and investors. The defence claimed the trio had falsely implicated him to get a lighter sentence, but after their testimony Bankman-Fried took the calculated risk to give evidence. He admitted making a mistake by not having a dedicated risk management team, but claimed he thought Alameda’s borrowing from FTX was allowed. He told the jury he didn’t realise how big the debts had become until just before both firms collapsed. The son of Stanford law professors, Bankman-Fried was known for his distinctive curly hair and casual dress – as well as mixing with celebrities and advising politicians on how crypto regulation. He had been in custody since August after the judge said he had probably tampered with witnesses. Bankman-Fried will be sentenced next year.

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