A jury of nine women and three men began deliberating a verdict Thursday afternoon in the criminal fraud trial of disgraced entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, accused of stealing $10 billion in client funds from his FTX crypto exchange. Has gone.
Jurors are deciding whether to convict Mr Bankman-Fried on seven charges of fraud and conspiracy. If they do not reach a decision by Thursday evening, deliberations will resume on Monday.
All 12 jurors must agree to convict or acquit Mr. Bankman-Fried on each of the seven charges. If even one juror does not agree, it will result in a hung jury.
Federal prosecutors have accused Mr. Bankman-Fried of taking billions of dollars in customer deposits from FTX for investments, political donations and luxury real estate. The exchange failed last year, leaving many customers unable to get their money back, and Mr. Bankman-Fried’s case turned into a referendum on the excesses of the volatile crypto industry.
Jurors have been hearing his trial for almost a month now, hearing from witnesses including some of Mr Bankman-Fried’s close associates who directly accused him. On Wednesday, closing arguments were made by the federal prosecutor, Nicholas Ross, and Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen. Another prosecutor, Danielle Sassoon, refuted Mr. Cohen’s comments Thursday morning before the jury was instructed on the charges.
In his closing statement, Mr Ross reminded the jury of the evidence and testimony of witnesses who said Mr Bankman-Fried had directed them to commit the crimes. Mr. Cohen tried to portray his client as someone who acted in good faith but made mistakes. He also pointed out that prosecution witnesses, some of whom have pleaded guilty in exchange for leniency, may have other motives.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is presiding over the case, has appeared eager to move the trial forward as quickly as possible. He has held hearings on some Fridays, the day juries are usually off, and he is willing to hear jurors after 4:30 p.m., when they are usually relieved.
Judge Kaplan said Thursday that the jury could stay until 8 p.m. and would be offered dinner and transportation if they stayed that long.