Crypto-magnet Sam Bankman-Fried, otherwise known as “SBF,” whose FTX cryptocurrency exchange crashed last year, was found guilty on all seven charges of fraud and conspiracy on Thursday.
It was a spectaculr fall from grace for the 31 year-old, who portrayed himself as a math nerd, as did the sycophants who enabled him.
He painted a picture with an altruistic image of a man who wanted to make as much money as possible, save the world, and pledge a boatload of money for the good of humanity.
The prosecutors brushed a vastly different portrait peppered with control, deceit, intentional lies, believing his own hubris, and holding a grip on the galactic importance of his own false image.
The jury of nine women and three men did not buy the defendant’s defense, and found the swindling convict guilty of all seven charges.
Prosecutors claimed the defendant orchestrated a scheme to steal as much as $10 billion from his investors. He was charged with stealing the monies to finance political contributions, venture capital investments and lavish spending.
Prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of using other people’s money as if those monies were his own personal piggy bank. He used customers’ money to bolster his own image and ambitions and prop up Alameda Research, which he also controlled.
Prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses, including three former top advisors to Bankman-Fried. All of the three pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate fully with the prosecutors.
Caroline Ellison, his former girlfriend, was one of them. She ran Alameda Research, the crypto trading firm the defendant founded.
Prosecutors also called a half-dozen former employees of Mr. Bankman-Fried as witnesses.
Bankman-Fried’s defense team called three witnesses, including the defendant, whose own testimony spanned three days.
Bankman-Fried’s defense team attempted to paint their client as the math nerd who had no intent to defraud anyone and was just swept up in a situation by factors beyond his control.
It was risky. During his testimony, Bankman-Fried stated he “couldn’t recall” more than 140 times on cross-examination.
The closing argument proffered by the prosecutors made it very clear.
Bankman-Fried’s business was built on a “foundation of lies and false promises.”
During the defense counsel’s closing statement, his attorney said that the only reason the three co-operating prosecutors’ witnesses testified the way they did was to save themselves from long prison sentences.
Before his empire crashed, Bankman-Fried’s worth was valued at $32 billion.
The jury began their deliberations on Thursday after nearly two weeks of testimony spread over the last month.
The charges Bankman-Fried is convicted of carry a maximum sentence of 110 years.
The court set Bankman-Fried’s sentencing for March 28 at 9:30 a.m.
Bankman-Fried is expected to appeal.
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