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No second trial for crypto fraudster Bankman-Fried

By AFP - Dec 31,2023 - Last updated at Dec 31,2023

NEW YORK — A federal prosecutor in New York has decided against pursuing a second trial, this one over corruption and illegal political donations, against former crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried.

The founder and CEO of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange platform, Bankman-Fried had been charged earlier with misappropriating billions of dollars of his clients' funds without their consent. He was found guilty in early November of seven counts including fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. 

Bankman-Fried, who is widely known as SBF, will face up to 110 years in prison when Judge Lewis Kaplan pronounces sentence on March 28.

A second trial, including charges that federal prosecutor Damian Williams excluded from the earlier trial, had been scheduled to open on March 11. 

It was to have addressed counts including conspiracy to bribe foreign officials and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. 

Those charges were not included in the first trial because they were not part of an agreement by which Bahamanian officials agreed to extradite Bankman-Fried in December 2022. 

Williams, in justifying the decision to drop the second trial, said that the Bahamas had still not given approval regarding those charges, and that prosecutors wanted to bring a "prompt resolution" to the file.

In a letter on Friday to Judge Kaplan, Williams said a second trial would also have meant delays in any restitution of funds to SBF's victims.

And Williams noted that much of the evidence alleging illegal campaign contributions by Bankman-Fried had been brought out in the first trial, and would play a factor in his sentencing.

Bankman-Fried was accused of authorising the payment of around $150 million in bribes to Chinese officials to unblock FTX's frozen assets in China.

He was also accused of using clients' funds to make political donations, notably to Joe Biden.

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