Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty in fraud trial

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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried looks on during his fraud trial over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange as U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan gives instructions to the jury and sends them out to deliberate, at federal court in New York City, on November 2, in this courtroom sketch. Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Former billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. Here’s what that means.

Each count pertains to a specific kind of crime committed against a specific group of alleged victims. 

In this case, there are charges related to alleged crimes committed against FTX’s customers and others related to sister company Alameda Research’s lenders, plus a money-laundering charge that refers to an alleged cover-up.

Here’s what the seven counts mean: 

Crimes against FTX customers: Counts one, two and six

Count one: Wire fraud on customers of FTX

Wire fraud is a kind of arcane-sounding name for when someone uses electronic communications — email, texts, tweets — to further a criminal act. The government says Bankman-Fried knowingly and willfully participated in a scheme to steal from customers. 

Fraud is a broad term but in general refers to a plan to deprive another person of money or property through false or deceptive means. 

Count Two: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX

This is the same as the above, but it involves at least one other person as a co-conspirator. In this case, three of the government’s cooperating witnesses have pleaded guilty to being co-conspirators with SBF in the hopes of securing a lighter sentence. 

Count Six: Conspiracy to commit commodities fraud on customers of FTX 

This count refers to knowingly participating in a scheme involving the sale of commodities (or crypto swaps) under the purview of the US derivatives regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC. 

In this case, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum are being treated as commodities subject to CFTC oversight. 

Fraud against lenders: Counts three, four and five 

Counts three and four: Wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research 

These are similar to counts one and two (fraud against customers), but refers to the companies that gave loans to Alameda. 

Count Five: Conspiracy to commit securities fraud on investors in FTX 

This charge refers to a scheme to defraud or make false statements about a security. In this case, the security is FTX stock. (While not a publicly traded firm, FTX raised capital by selling equity in the company to investors.)

The government contends that Bankman-Fred lied to investors about the financial ties between FTX and Alameda. 

Count Seven: Conspiracy to commit money laundering

Money laundering, broadly, is concealing the source of money that’s obtained from illicit activities — such as embezzlement or gambling. 


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