US prosecutors announced on Friday night that they do not intend to pursue a second trial against Sam Bankman-Fried, the former billionaire and founder of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange. Bankman-Fried was convicted last month on all seven fraud and conspiracy counts he faced, accused of looting $8 billion from FTX customers out of sheer greed.
The decision not to conduct a second trial was revealed in a letter filed in federal court in Manhattan. Prosecutors justified their stance by citing the “strong public interest” in a swift resolution of the case against the 31-year-old entrepreneur. They argued that the urgency is particularly significant as Bankman-Fried’s scheduled sentencing on March 28, 2024, is expected to include orders of forfeiture and restitution for victims of his crimes.
Bankman-Fried, led away in handcuffs by Bahamian police in December of the previous year, is facing a dramatic fall from grace. The founder’s ‘unkempt visionary’ persona, once associated with a $26 billion personal fortune, crumbled within a year after FTX filed for bankruptcy.
While the conviction stemmed from the initial seven charges, Bankman-Fried had six additional charges, including campaign finance violations, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. These charges were severed from the first trial, leaving the possibility of a trial timetable uncertain as the Bahamas, where FTX was based, had not granted consent for a trial on the remaining charges.
Prosecutors stressed that a second trial would not significantly impact the potential prison time Bankman-Fried could face, as Judge Lewis Kaplan could consider all of the convicted entrepreneur’s conduct when sentencing him. The prosecutors argued that much of the evidence that could be presented in a second trial was already introduced during the initial proceedings.
Bankman-Fried, expected to appeal against his conviction, testified during the trial that he made mistakes in managing FTX but denied stealing customer funds. He also claimed ignorance regarding the precarious financial state of both FTX and his crypto-focused hedge fund Alameda Research.
Source: The Guardian