Sam Bankman-Fried Exonerated, Prosecutors Opt Out of Second Trial

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By Ronald Tech

NEW YORK (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors have decided against pursuing a second trial against Sam Bankman-Fried, following his recent conviction for misappropriating funds from his now-defunct FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

In an announcement made on Friday evening, the prosecutors underscored the pressing public interest in promptly resolving the case against the former billionaire, outweighing the advantages of initiating a second trial.

The interests at stake loom significantly, especially as Bankman-Fried’s upcoming March 28, 2024, sentencing is expected to include directives for forfeiture and restitution to compensate the victims of his transgressions.

Bankman-Fried was convicted by jurors on November 2 on all seven counts of fraud and conspiracy brought against him. Prosecutors alleged that he greedily embezzled $8 billion from FTX customers.

Bankman-Fried’s legal representatives declined to offer any comments.

Previously, he had been facing six additional charges, including campaign finance violations, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Extradited from the Bahamas, where FTX was based, in December 2022 to face the initial seven charges, Bankman-Fried’s trial on the remaining charges is contingent on the Bahamas’ consent, thereby rendering the timetable uncertain, as noted by prosecutors.

Bankman-Fried’s conviction comes close to a year after FTX filed for bankruptcy, extinguishing his once-estimable $26 billion personal fortune in one of the speediest collapses of a significant participant in U.S. financial markets.

When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Bankman-Fried could be staring at decades in prison.

Prosecutors highlighted that a majority of the evidence that could be presented in a second trial had already been introduced in the first trial.

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Additionally, they emphasized that a potential second trial wouldn’t significantly impact the duration of imprisonment Bankman-Fried may confront under federal guidelines, as Kaplan could take into account all of Bankman-Fried’s actions when pronouncing the sentence for the aforementioned convictions.

Bankman-Fried is anticipated to appeal his conviction.

During the trial, he testified to errors in managing FTX, admitting to the absence of a risk management team but refuting the allegations of pilfering customer funds.

Bankman-Fried also professed that he had not realized the precarious financial state of both FTX and his crypto-focused hedge fund Alameda Research until shortly before their demise and believed that borrowing money from FTX for Alameda Research was permissible.

Since August, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus has been in custody, after Kaplan invalidated his bail, suspecting Bankman-Fried of likely tampering with potential trial witnesses.

The case is U.S. v. Bankman-Fried, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-cr-00673.

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