US prosecutors opt out of second trial for crypto tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried

Prosecutors cite ‘strong public interest’ for resolving major case against disgraced crypto exchange founder.

In this courtroom sketch, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, background center, is cross examined by U.S. Assistant Attorney Danielle Sassoon, left, while Judge Lewis Kaplan listens, background second left, in Manhattan federal court, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in New York. Members of the jury are seated at right.
The 31-year-old disgraced tycoon could face up to 110 years in prison if all his charges are confirmed in court [File: Elizabeth Williams/ AP Photo]

United States prosecutors have chosen not to pursue a second trial for FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who has already been found guilty of fraud and money laundering, and proceed instead to sentencing.

Prosecutors said in a letter filed in a New York court on Friday that pursuing a second trial for the disgraced tycoon would only serve to delay the case against him, which is already strong enough.

“Given that practical reality, and the strong public interest in a prompt resolution of this matter, the Government intends to proceed to sentencing on the counts for which the defendant was convicted at trial,” prosecutors said in the letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over Bankman-Fried’s first criminal trial last year.

In November, a jury found Bankman-Fried guilty of seven counts of fraud, embezzlement and criminal conspiracy, among other charges.

The 31-year-old was accused of using billions of dollars from customer deposits on FTX to cover losses at his hedge fund, pay off loans and buy luxury real estate, among other large personal expenses.

At the trial, he had admitted to making “mistakes” that ended up hurting people, but pleaded not guilty to the charges as he claimed he never meant to steal.

Billions of dollars were lost after Bankman-Fried’s crimes came to light in 2022, something that also contributed to deepening a crypto market downturn that had started earlier that year.

Federal prosecutors have previously described the case as “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history”.

Bankman-Fried is slated to be sentenced on March 28, when he could face up to 110 years in prison.

Prosecutors argued that much of the evidence that could be offered at a second trial was already presented at the first trial, and that a second trial would not affect how much time he could face in prison.

They also said victims would not benefit from forfeiture or restitution orders if sentencing is delayed.

Bankman-Fried is expected to file an appeal against his conviction.

He was previously extradited from the Bahamas, where his companies were based.

The US and the Bahamas have since been clashing over which country’s prosecutors have the legal jurisdiction and right to prosecute him. US prosecutors on Friday wrote that the US government “does not have a timeline for when the Bahamas may respond to its request”.

Bankman-Fried, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been in jail since August, and had his bail revoked after a judge concluded that he had likely tampered with prospective trial witnesses.

Source: News Agencies