U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams addresses the media after a guilty verdict was reached in the fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried on Nov. 2, 2023.
David Dee Delgado—Getty Images
Four hours. That’s all it took for a jury to convict Sam Bankman-Fried after a month-long trial that exposed the rotten foundations of his one-time crypto empire. Only a year ago, he was hanging out with the likes of Tom Brady and buying luxury villas while telling everyone how he would use his billions to make the world a better place. Now Bankman-Fried’s world is much, much smaller.
In the coming days, he will spend his time at a Brooklyn detention center begging for more Adderall and time on the internet as he awaits a second trial—this one for trying to use customer money to bribe Chinese officials. That will almost certainly lead to additional guilty verdicts and add yet more years to the decades Bankman-Fried is poised to serve when he is sentenced in late march. After that, he will don his prison clothes and be transported to a federal prison in upstate New York or elsewhere.
Around this time, Apple and other streaming services will begin dropping a series of mini-series that will offer a sensationalized tale of how Bankman-Fried evolved from a privileged math nerd to the perpetrator of one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history. This will be his last flicker of fame before he settles into a tedious regime of awaiting the outcome of long-shot appeals, and then counting the thousands of days until he becomes a free man again in his 50s or 60s—or possibly not at all if the judge hits him with a Madoff-style life sentence.
Meanwhile, outside Bankman-Fried’s prison cell, the rest of the world will move on. This includes the crypto industry, which suffered incalculable damage from Bankman-Fried’s colossal fraud but has survived and is already laying the groundwork for another bull market. Other fraudsters will emerge, but, just maybe, the ruins of FTX will have left everyone just a little wiser and more cautious. At the very least, the likes of Sequoia Capital will do basic due diligence before writing out $200 million checks to blatant conmen. In the crypto markets, a vestige of Bankman-Fried’s legacy will live on in the form of FTT tokens as traders buy and sell them to lay claims on bankruptcy payouts that will eventually come.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Bankman-Fried’s guilty verdict marks the end of an era, and that it came exactly one year after CoinDesk’s Ian Allison published his exposé revealing the holes in FTX’s balance sheet. Venture capitalists and regulators failed to detect the colossal fraud, but a reporter finally blew the whistle—a testament to the ongoing power of journalism to promote truth and accountability.
And speaking of journalism, if you want to end your week with something upbeat, make sure to read my colleague Leo Schwarz’s charming profile of the man behind Inner City Press, the publication and X account that provided some of the very best coverage of Bankman-Fried’s trial. Have a good weekend.
A view from the courtroom reveals the emotional despair that racked Bankman-Fried and his parents as the guilty verdicts came down. (Fortune)
Despite being host to notorious crypto projects Terra and Three Arrows Capital, Singapore is sticking with its plans to be a crypto hub—though with new guardrails. (Bloomberg)
Solana has reemerged as the hottest cryptocurrency with year-to-date gains of over 300%. (Bloomberg)
Block‘s shares rose on a positive earnings report, which included news that its Bitcoin revenue is up 40% and that the value of its crypto treasury has increased. (Fortune)
Coinbase shares dropped slightly after the company posted lackluster earnings that showed better margins but a continued drop in revenue. (Bloomberg)
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