Disgraced cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty on all seven charges of fraud and money laundering by a New York City jury.
Bankman-Fried ran one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges until the enterprise came crashing down last year when his firm, FTX, went bankrupt.
Following a month-long trial, the jury convicted 31-year-old Bankman-Fried on Thursday after just a few hours of deliberations. He could face decades in jail.
Prosecutors had accused Bankman-Fried of stealing around $10 billion from the exchange’s customers for his own personal use.
“He took the money,” assistant U.S. attorney Nicolas Roos said in his closing arguments. “He knew it was wrong. He did it anyway, because he thought he was smarter and better and that he could figure his way out of it.”
The court case ended almost a year after FTX filed for bankruptcy in a dramatic outcome that shocked financial markets. The American was arrested in the Bahamas in December and extradited to the U.S. for trial. Among those who testified against Bankman-Fried was former girlfriend Caroline Ellison, who said that he had arranged for customer funds to back risky investments that led to the collapse of the exchange. FTX co-founder and longtime friend of Bankman-Fried, Gary Wang, also testified against him.
During the trial, Bankman-Fried took the stand himself and experienced a cross-examination described by NPR as “withering.” During his appearance, he admitted that many people had been hurt by FTX’s downfall, though denied participating in any fraudulent activity. But the jury disagreed.
“Sam Bankman-Fried perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history; a multibillion-dollar scheme designed to make him the king of crypto,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a statement after the verdict.
“This case has always been about lying, cheating, and stealing, and we have no patience for it,” he added.
Responding to the verdict, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer Mark Cohen said: “We respect the jury’s decision but we are very disappointed with the result.” Cohen added: “Mr Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him.”
Sentencing will be announced at a later date, and Bankman-Fried could appeal the verdict.