Sam Bankman-Fried is scheduled to be tried on eight charges starting on 3 October 2023, and US District Judge Lewis Kaplan has allowed for a second trial on 11 March 2024 on a further five charges that include bribing Chinese officials and committing financial fraud. The charges centre around the alleged fraud and conspiracy to defraud crypto investors and customers in FTX and Alameda Research.
Bankman-Fried’s bail was revoked in August earlier this year after Judge Lewis Kaplan, of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, found he had attempted to tamper with witnesses on at least two occasions.
The Judge will likely ask if any of the potential jurors had an FTX account and dismiss those individuals immediately during jury selection. Once the trial itself begins, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) makes its opening statements, followed by the DOJ presenting evidence and questioning witnesses. Bankman-Fried and his legal team will then have the opportunity to plead their defence. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks.
Prosecutors will need a jury to reach a unanimous verdict to convict the FTX founder. If there is a 12-person jury, all 12 must believe Bankman-Fried is guilty beyond reasonable doubt at the end of the trial.
Can funds be recovered?
The process to recover over $7bn in lost funds from FTX is still expected to take many more months, with the FTX legal team indicating that the FTX bankruptcy case ought to conclude in the second quarter of 2024.
The deadline for non-US creditors being able to file in the US bankruptcy has also passed (deadline of 30 September). So, from 1 October, the Liquidator will have the complete picture of all creditors pursuing the return of their funds.
A growing group of non-US customers of FTX.com, which currently counts up to around $1.6 billion in lost funds, has negotiated a customer priority with the Liquidator – negotiations are ongoing in terms of what this means in practice for those customers.
The US courts have recently given permission to the Liquidator to start liquidating the crypto assets to allow for repayment to customers in USD. This process can now start, although it is likely to span well into 2024.
Creditors will be watching the trial with great interest over the coming months; any finding of guilt (whilst not having a direct impact on whether payment should be made to creditors) will support the Liquidator with any legal recovery action, so creditors have a direct interest in seeing justice served.
Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years behind bars if found guilty of all charges.
If you are a victim of crypto fraud, please contact Louise Abbott. Louise is advising multiple FTX investors on the recovery of their funds.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.