Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial, which kicked off on Tuesday in the United States, marks the culmination of a yearlong legal saga stemming from the dramatic collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange he founded.
The trial, expected to last about six weeks, comes nearly a year after FTX’s collapse shocked markets and tattered Bankman-Fried’s reputation. Selection of the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates is set to continue on Wednesday, followed by opening statements.
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Here is a timeline of key events leading up to the 31-year-old former billionaire’s trial.
Bankman-Fried, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, quits his job as a quantitative trader at Jane Street Capital and launches Alameda Research, a trading firm focused on cryptocurrency.
Bankman-Fried and former Google employee Gary Wang found FTX as a new platform to trade crypto tokens and derivatives.
FTX raises $420m in venture funding, valuing the company at $25bn. Bankman-Fried debuts on the Forbes billionaires list, which estimates his net worth at $22.5bn. The magazine’s assessment of his wealth would rise to $26bn by the end of the year.
The NFL Super Bowl’s broadcast is heavy on cryptocurrency advertisements, signifying the height of the craze for the booming asset class. FTX’s “Don’t Miss Out” spot features actor Larry David, whose scepticism about the platform is portrayed as akin to an early human doubting the importance of the wheel.
Bankman-Fried emerges as the cryptocurrency sector’s so-called “white knight” amid a collapse in the prices of Bitcoin and other digital assets. Alameda gives crypto lender Voyager Digital a $200m credit facility, and FTX gives lender BlockFi a $250m loan.
November 2, 2022
Crypto news website CoinDesk publishes a leaked Alameda Research balance sheet showing that much of its $14.6bn in assets is held in FTX’s own token, called FTT. The token subsequently sheds about $400m of its market cap, and rival exchange Binance says it will sell its FTT holdings.
November 8, 2022
After FTX sees $6bn in customer withdrawals in three days, Binance boss Changpeng Zhao says the company has signed a nonbinding agreement to buy FTX’s non-US unit. Binance scraps the deal the next day.
November 11, 2022
FTX files for US bankruptcy protection, and Bankman-Fried resigns as its chief executive officer.
November 16, 2022
David and other FTX celebrity promoters, including NFL quarterback Tom Brady, are sued over claims they engaged in deceptive practices. The celebrities have said the suit should be dismissed, arguing they did not cause FTX investors’ losses.
December 12, 2022
Bankman-Fried is arrested in the Bahamas, where he lives and where FTX is based. The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan later confirms that a federal grand jury had indicted him for fraud and conspiracy charges.
December 21, 2022
Bankman-Fried leaves the Bahamas after agreeing to be extradited to the US. While he is in the air, prosecutors reveal that Wang and Alameda chief executive Caroline Ellison have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
December 22, 2022
Bankman-Fried makes an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court and is released to home detention at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, on a $250m bond.
January 3-12, 2023
Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty and US District Judge Lewis Kaplan schedules his trial for October. In a post-arrest blog post, Bankman-Fried denies stealing funds and blames FTX’s collapse on a broader downturn in crypto markets.
February 28, 2023
Nishad Singh, the former director of engineering at FTX, adds to the pressure on Bankman-Fried by becoming the third former member of his inner circle to plead guilty to fraud charges and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.
August 11, 2023
Kaplan revokes Bankman-Fried’s bail after finding probable cause to believe he tampered with witnesses at least twice, including by sharing Ellison’s private writings with a New York Times reporter. Bankman-Fried is remanded to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center pending trial.
October 3, 2023
The trial kicks off in Manhattan with jury selection. Bankman-Fried’s father and brother, as well as ex-President Donald Trump’s former spokesman Anthony Scaramucci, are among possible witnesses at the fraud trial, according to a list read by a prosecutor in court.
But there is no guarantee they will testify during the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.