Sam Bankman-Fried, the Democrats’ second largest donor, was found guilty on 7 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering on Thursday night in Manhattan federal court.
The FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder could face a maximum sentence of 115 years in federal prison.
Jurors considered overwhelming evidence against Bankman-Fried including emails, text messages and photos that show he intentionally misused over $8 billion of FTX customer deposits.
Evidence shows Bankman-Fried spent over $300 million on properties in the Bahamas, Hong Kong, and New York.
He is accused of using FTX as his personal ATM to make unlimited withdrawals for his hedge fund Alameda Research. His ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, who ran Alameda Research, testified that she committed wire fraud and was directed to do so by Bankman-Fried.
Ellison cooperated with the government and will be sentenced at a later date.
Prosecutors said Bankman-Fried spent over $1 billion on promotions and celebrity endorsements, including $205 million to rename Miami’s NBA arena to FTX arena.
Bankman-Fried, 31, also paid $28.5 million to NBA star Stephen Curry for a TV commercial and print ads, $50 million to former NFL quarterback Tom Brady and his then wife Giselle Bundchen for adverts, and $10 million to comedian Larry David.
In one flashy FTX commercial, Steph Curry said, “I’m not an expert, and I don’t need to be. With FTX I have everything I need to buy, sell and trade Crypto safely.”
Curry was among the victims who lost millions in cryptocurrency deposits with FTX.
After dodging process servers for weeks, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal was served in a class-action lawsuit against Bankman-Fried in April.
“A lot of people think I’m involved, but I was just a paid spokesperson for a commercial,” O’Neal told CNBC in December.
Bankman-Fried was charged with using fake spreadsheets to secure billions in loans from lenders.
He was caught when Alameda Research’s balance sheet was leaked to crypto news site Coindesk in Nov. 2022, showing $8 billion missing from customer accounts. The leaked balance sheet led to a run on withdrawals that forced Alameda and FTX to shut down.
Bankman-Fried claimed not to know what happened to the missing $8 billion.
But prosecutors proved he spent the money on lavish properties, including a $35 million, 12,000 sq. ft. multi-level penthouse in the Bahamas, private jets and luxury cars. He also wined and dined Democrat lawmakers, like California Rep. Maxine Waters (top photo), to win influence and power. He reportedly donated $5 million to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
The government clawed back $7 billion for former FTX customers.