Sam Bankman-Fried will not face a second trial

NEW YORK, Dec 29 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors said they do not plan to run a second trial against Sam Bankman-Fried, who was convicted last month of stealing from customers of his now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

In a letter filed on Friday night in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors said the “strong public interest” in a prompt settlement of their case against the 31-year-old former billionaire outweighed the benefits of a second trial.

Prosecutors said that interest “weighs particularly heavily here,” given that Bankman-Fried’s planned March 28, 2024, sentencing will likely include orders of forfeiture and restitution for victims of his crimes.

Jurors on Nov. 2 convicted Bankman-Fried on all seven fraud and plot counts he faced. Prosecutors had accused him of stealing $8 billion from FTX customers out of sheer greed.

Lawyers for Bankman-Fried refused to comment.

Bankman-Fried had faced six additional charges that had been severed from his first trial, including campaign finance violations, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to run an unlicensed money transmitting company.

He had been transferred in December 2022 from the Bahamas, where FTX was based, to face the seven earlier charges.

The Bahamas has yet to give its consent for a trial on the remaining charges, however, leaving the timetable uncertain, prosecutors said.

Bankman-Fried’s verdict came nearly one year after FTX filed for bankruptcy, erasing his once-$26 billion personal fortune in one of the fastest collapses of a big participant in U.S. financial markets.

Bankman-Fried could face decades in jail when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said much of the evidence that could be offered at a second trial was already given at the first trial.

They also said a second trial would not change how much time Bankman-Fried could face in prison under recommended federal guidelines, because Kaplan could consider all of Bankman-Fried’s conduct when sentencing him for the counts on which he was convicted.

Bankman-Fried is likely to appeal his conviction.

He testified at trial that he made mistakes running FTX, including by not building a team to oversee risk management, but did not steal customer funds.

Bankman-Fried also said he thought the borrowing of money from FTX by his crypto-focused hedge fund Alameda Research was permissible, and that he did not understand how precarious their finances had become until shortly before both collapsed.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate has been jailed since August, when Kaplan revoked his bail after concluding that Bankman-Fried had likely tampered with potential trial witnesses.

The case is U.S. v. Bankman-Fried, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-cr-00673.

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