June 20, 2024

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Jurors in Sam Bankman-Fried criminal trial begin deliberations

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Indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrives at the U.S. Courthouse in New York City, July 26, 2023.

Amr Alfiky | Reuters

Twelve jurors in a lower Manhattan courtroom have begun to deliberate the fate of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried following a month of testimony from nearly 20 witnesses.

The case was handed to the jury around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan finished reading aloud 60 pages worth of instructions. A verdict could come as early as Thursday afternoon, and Judge Kaplan previously ordered the jury to stay until 8:15 p.m, offering free pizza and Uber rides home.

Bankman-Fried, who started digital asset exchange FTX in 2019, and sister hedge fund Alameda Research two years earlier, is charged with seven counts, including wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering, related to the implosion of his crypto empire late last year.

He faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted. The 31-year-old graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and son of two Stanford legal scholars has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In order for Bankman-Fried to be found guilty, the jury must unanimously decide beyond a reasonable doubt that the entrepreneur, once hailed as a crypto genius, intended to defraud investors and customers.

The trial, initially anticipated to run until the Thanksgiving holiday, has moved swiftly. The government curtailed its witness list, and ultimately didn’t bring a rebuttal case after the defense rested. The defense called only three witnesses to the stand, with the bulk of its argument relying on the sworn testimony of the defendant.

Both sides have also moved more quickly than expected on direct and cross-examinations.

Judge Kaplan has encouraged the expedited timeline, holding jurors until 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in order to finish closing arguments. It’s unclear how long the jury will deliberate, but the judge — while emphasizing that he’s not rushing a decision — said he’s willing to stay until 8:15…

2023-11-02 15:26:00

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