The man who was once the most influential voice in crypto is now facing decades in prison, ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia reports
Former crypto heavyweight Sam Bankman-Fried is facing decades in prison as one of the biggest financial fraud cases in US history begins.
Opening statements began on Wednesday after a jury was chosen to hear the trial in New York City.
Bankman-Fried, 31, maintains he was not to blame for fraud that prosecutors allege in seven charges brought against him since his arrest last December in the Bahamas.
At his height, Bankman-Fried ran FTX one of the largest crypto exchanges on the planet and was worth billions.
But when investors rushed to withdraw their deposits from his exchange last year amid a collapse in the market FTX could not meet demand and collapsed.
It was soon revealed FTX couldn’t account for more than £6.5bn in assets.
The prosecution alleges Bankman-Fried defrauded thousands of investors by siphoning off their money for his own uses, including financing his businesses, buying real estate and making big political contributions to try to influence government regulation of cryptocurrency.
His meteoric rise to fame was compared to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and he became influential in Washington after giving large sums of money to the Democrats.
Defence lawyers insist that their client had no criminal intent as he became famous in the crypto world while growing FTX and a related business, Alameda Research, into multibillion-dollar heavyweights in the cryptocurrency industry.
A year before FTX collapsed, Bankman-Fried spent millions of dollars on the 2022 Super Bowl with celebrity advertisements promoting FTX as the “safest and easiest way to buy and sell crypto.”
Bankman-Fried was extradited to the United States from the Bahamas after his arrest last December.
Originally under house arrest for nearly eight months, his $250 million bond was revoked and he was jailed in August after a judge concluded he’d tried to influence trial witnesses.
The trial is expected to last six weeks.
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