The 'Crypto King' has been convicted of fraud for stealing at least $10 billion (£8.3bn) from customers and investors, ITV News' Dan Rivers reports
Sam Bankman-Fried, head of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been found guilty of all counts against him in what prosecutors called "one of the biggest financial frauds in American history."
The 31-year-old's spectacular rise and fall in the cryptocurrency industry hit rock bottom on Thursday when a New York jury convicted him of fraud for stealing at least $10 billion (£8.3bn) 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.
FTX, once the world’s second-largest crypto exchange, collapsed into bankruptcy a year ago.
“Mr Bankman-Fried. Please rise and face the jury,” Judge Lewis A Kaplan commanded, just before a jury forewoman responded “guilty” seven times to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three other conspiracy charges - which carry potential penalties adding up to 110 years in prison.
Bankman-Fried is likely to face far less than the maximum at a sentencing set for March 28.
As the verdict was read, Bankman-Fried seemed stunned, appearing stoney-faced, his hands clasped before him, as his lawyers remained sitting beside him.
When he sat down, he looked down for several minutes.
His lawyer, Mark Cohen, later read a statement outside court to say they “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,” Mr Cohen added.
US Attorney Damian Williams, who sat in the front row of the spectator section during the verdict, stood before cameras outside the courthouse.
He said Bankman-Fried “perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history, a multibillion dollar scheme designed to make him the king of crypto.”
“But here’s the thing: The cryptocurrency industry might be new. The players like Sam Bankman-Fried might be new. This kind of fraud, this kind of corruption is as old as time and we have no patience for it,” he said.
He said the case should serve as a warning to every other fraudster who “thinks they're untouchable, that their crimes are too complex,” that they are too powerful to prosecute or can talk their way out of their crimes because “I promise we'll have enough handcuffs for all of them.”
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