This story was last updated on November 3.
Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty on all seven charges of fraud and conspiracy, exactly one year after publication of the exposé that brought down his crypto empire.
Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, was a self-styled effective altruist who promised to use his crypto riches to save the world. Instead, his companies — FTX and the crypto trading firm Alameda Research — tarnished the crypto brand and cost investors billions in lost deposits and market value.
At its peak, FTX was worth $32 billion, and its schlubby billionaire founder was rubbing shoulders with celebrities and politicians .
Now, a jury of his peers has found him guilty. He had pleaded not guilty.
Read on to find out how it all happened, date by date, and watch for updates as the trial progresses.
- Bankman-Fried studies physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His roommate was Gary Wang, who went on to became co-founder of FTX nine years later. He is now a key witness for the prosecution during the trial against Bankman-Fried. In December, Wang pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution of his onetime friend.
- June: Bankman-Fried starts a three-year stint as a trader at quantitative trading firm Jane Street. He meets several people who go one to become senior executives at FTX, and key participants its downfall. Among them: Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s on-and-off-again girlfriend and the future CEO of Alameda Research.
- November: Together with co-founder Tara Mac Auley, Bankman-Fried launches crypto trading firm Alameda Research.
- April: Mac Aulay and the rest of the management team resign from Alameda, citing “100 small things” that Bankman-Fried had done wrong, according to Michael Lewis’ book Going Infinite — The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon. She and several other team members set up Lantern Ventures, a trading firm with around $400 million in assets under management.
- May 8: Bankman-Fried and Wang set up FTX. The crypto exchange launches with its native FTT token, which can be used for staking and other services.
- August 6: FTX raises $8 million from venture capital firms including Proof of Capital, Consensus Lab, and FBG Capital. In time, FTX’s trading volume reaches $1 billion per day.
- December 17: Binance CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao buys 20% of FTX through a combination of equity and long positions in the exchange’s native FTT token.
- January: FTX launches derivative tokens that allow users to bet on the US election.
- August 25: FTX acquires portfolio-tracking app Blockfolio for $150 million in cash, crypto, and stocks. Bloomberg News later reports that FTX funded 94% of the takeover with FTT.
- October 28: The Wall Street Journal reports Bankman-Fried to be the second-largest donor to President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with $5.2 million in contributions.
- March: FTX purchases the naming rights for the American Airlines Arena in Miami for $135 million. It officially becomes the FTX Arena on June 4. It is now called the Kaseya Arena.
- May: Former Citadel Securities tech executive Brett Harrison becomes president of FTX.US.
- June 4: Esports organisation TSM announces a $220 million multi-year partnership with FTX.
- June 29: NFL star Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele Bündchen announce a partnership with FTX. Brady is appointed brand ambassador, while Bündchen becomes FTX’s Environmental & Social Initiatives Advisor. Author Michael Lewis wrote Brady was paid $55 million for 20 hours of work over three years. Bündchen was paid $20 million.
- July: FTX hits over one million users and is the third-largest exchange by volume. American subsidiary FTX.US reaches up to $1 billion in daily volume.
- July: The company concludes a $900 million funding round — the largest in crypto history. FTX’s valuation reaches $18 billion.
- July: Bankman-Fried buys back Binance’s stake in FTX for $2.3 billion, according to Forbes.
- August 10: FTX announces a partnership with investor and “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary.
- September 7: NBA star Stephen Curry becomes an ambassador for FTX. Lewis later wrote in his book, “Going Infinite,” that Curry was paid $35 million for just 20 hours a year for three years.
- September 20: FTX moves from Hong Kong to the Bahamas after its Bahamian subsidiary, FTX Digital Markets, is granted regulatory approval.
- September 23: FTX partners with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Race Team in a multi-season deal.
- October: FTX’s valuation reaches $25 billion as investors including Singaporean wealth fund Temasek and Tiger Global Management jump onboard.
- October 12: Ellison and crypto quant trader Sam Trabucco are appointed co-CEOs of Alameda.
- December 14: FTX and the Golden State Warriors basketball team ink a sponsorship deal for roughly $10 million, CNBC reports.
- January 14: FTX announces the creation of FTX Ventures, a $2 billion investment arm, with a focus on expansion into various industries such as gaming, fintech, and healthcare.
- January 26: FTX.US raises $400 million in a round led by top tier tech investment players Temasek and SoftBank Group; the deal bestows the company with an $8 billion valuation.
- February 11: FTX announces a plan to offer stock trading to US customers.
- February 13: An FTX ad starring comedian Larry David airs during the 2022 Super Bowl.
- July 1: FTX.US floats a deal with troubled crypto lender BlockFi to purchase the company for up to $240 million. After FTX’s collapse in November, the deal fell apart. BlockFi had over $1.2 billion in assets tied up with FTX and later fell into bankruptcy.
- August 19: The Federal Deposit Insurance Company, a US government corporation that supplies insurance to depositors in banks, issues a cease-and-desist to FTX.US on allegations that the exchange falsely claimed deposits were FDIC insured.
- August 24: Trabucco steps down as co-CEO of Alameda, making Ellison the sole CEO.
- September 26: FTX wins an auction to buy the assets of beleaguered crypto firm Voyager Digital for about $1.4 billion. Following FTX’s collapse, Binance took over the assets in December for $1 billion.
- September 27: Harrison steps down as president of FTX.US, saying he will stay on as an advisor.
- October 14: Court filings reveal FTX and Bankman-Fried are under investigation by Texas state regulators for the sale of unregistered securities.
- November 2: Details of a leaked balance sheet in a CoinDesk report show Alameda Research was heavily exposed to FTT.
- November 6: Binance CEO Zhao tweets that his company will sell the remainder of the FTT holdings it received in 2021 — initially valued at $2 billion. The move triggers stress among investors that FTX may be wobbling. Customers demand withdrawals of their deposits.
- November 7: Bankman-Fried tweets that “FTX is fine. Assets are fine,” in a bid to calm investors rattled by what he called “false rumours.” The tweet is later deleted. Withdrawals mount.
- November 8: Zhao announces that Binance is in the process of purchasing FTX amid its rapidly developing “liquidity crisis.” FTX.US would not be included as part of the purchase. The price of FTT drops 80% on the announcement, resulting in a $2 billion decline in market value.
- November 9: Bloomberg News reports that the US Commodity and Futures Trading Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Commission are examining potential wrongdoing at FTX, clouding a sale to Binance.
- November 9: Zhao rescinds the deal, tweeting, “Sad day. Tried but” followed by a crying emoji. Whatever confidence was left in FTX evaporates and crypto investors brace for the biggest collapse in the young industry’s history.
- November 11: FTX files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Bankman-Fried resigns as CEO. Corporate turnaround specialist John Ray is named as CEO and control of the company shifts to a team of professional managers operating under the auspices of a federal bankruptcy court.
- November 11: The Miami Heat basketball team and Miami-Dade County sever all relations with FTX, and seek to rename FTX Arena. The Formula 1 team Mercedes also sever its multi-year partnership with FTX inked in 2021.
- November 13: Bahamian police announce an investigation of FTX.
- November 15: FTX investors file a class-action lawsuit against FTX and celebrity influencers including quarterback Brady and comedian David.
- November 16: Bankman-Fried posts a thread on X, trying to explain himself and offer a post-mortem of sorts. “I’m really sorry that things ended up as they did,” he says.
- December 12: Authorities arrest Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas on multiple charges including fraud.
- December 13: The US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York announce charges against Bankman-Fried in an eight-count indictment.
- December 13: The SEC files a civil complaint against Bankman-Fried on allegations of fraud and misappropriation of customer funds.
- December 19: Bankman-Fried agrees to be extradited to the US.
- December 22: Bankman-Fried is released on a $250 million bond — the largest in history.
- December 22: The attorney’s office unseals the guilty pleas of Ellison and Wang. They pleaded guilty to seven and four charges, respectively, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
- January 27: Prosecutors write a letter to Judge Kaplan requesting that he modify bail conditions to include a ban on Bankman-Fried’s private communications with FTX and Alameda employees.
- February 1: Kaplan orders Bankman-Fried to cease all communications with former employees, and forbids the use of encrypted messaging apps.
- May 17: FTX leadership sues Bankman-Fried for making a near $250 million deal to purchase stock clearing platform Embed in 2022, when they allege he knew the company was insolvent.
- June 19: FTX legal costs between February 1 and April 30 hit $120 million, according to The Block research, citing adviser filings.
- July 26: Prosecutors request that Bankman-Fried’s bond be revoked on grounds of witness tampering, but they also drop campaign finance charges. Kaplan places a gag order on Bankman-Fried ahead of the trial.
- July 31: FTX bankruptcy administrators file a plan to reboot FTX for international customers.
- August 11: Judge Kaplan rules that prosecutors were correct in their allegations of witness tampering, and revokes Bankman-Fried’s bail. Bankman-Fried is ordered to return to jail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
- October 3: The first day of the trial against Bankman-Fried kicks off in New York. Over the next two days, the prosecutors and the defence select the jury.
- October 5: The Wall Street Journal reports that FTX employees in the US discovered a back door in its software that Alameda could use to access funds six months before the collapse.
- October 6: Wang testifies against his former MIT roommate. He says Alameda had been given a $65 billion line of credit on FTX.
- October 10: Ellison testifies against Bankman-Fried. Highlights of the testimony: she says Bankman-Fried had instructed her to take “around $14 billion” from FTX customers to repay Alameda lenders.
- October 11: Ellison’s testimony details Alameda’s years-long use of FTX customer deposits and how she, at Bankman-Fried’s request, falsified documents in order to assuage nervous lenders.
- October 13: Zac Prince, CEO of defunct crypto lender BlockFi, takes the stand and says, “I don’t think BlockFi would’ve filed for bankruptcy in November 2022 if the Alameda loans were still in good standing” and the funds on FTX were there.
- October 16: FTX’s ex-head of engineering Nishad Singh takes the stand to testify against the former crypto mogul on Monday, criticising Bankman-Fried’s lavish and unnecessary spending. “I had a lot of admiration and respect for him,” said Singh “Over time a lot of that eroded.”
- October 17: The testimony of Singh finishes, with the defence landing a few blows against the prosecution amidst the cross-examination.
- October 18: An accounting professor provides an analysis of FTX and Alameda bank statements, crypto wallets and databases, saying that they showed customer money was misappropriated.
- October 27: Bankman-Fried begins to testify. Calm and articulate under direct examination, he becomes evasive under the prosecution’s aggressive questioning. But the jury isn’t in the room, since Judge Lewis Kaplan said he needed to hear part of Bankman-Fried’s testimony before allowing jurors to hear it.
- October 28: Bankman-Fried testifies in front of jurors after appearing solely before the judge on Thursday. He disputes testimony from his former co-workers, who said they committed fraud at his behest. According to Bankman-Fried, it was a series of mistakes they made that caused the collapse of FTX and Alameda Research.
- November 1: As the trial is reaching its climax, bettors put the odds of a guilty verdict at 98% on blockchain prediction market Polymarket.
- November 1: Prosecutors and defence lawyers make their closing arguments in trial of Sam Bankman-Fried. The defence argues that the government attempt to turn a well-meaning, “high school maths nerd” into “someone you’ll dislike.” Assistant US Attorney Nicolas Roos portrays a very different Bankman-Fried: a high-flying, “celebrity chasing” entrepreneur who repeatedly stole from customers to satisfy his own greed.
- November 2: Bankman-Fried is found guilty on all seven charges of fraud and conspiracy. The jury deliberated for less than three hours before reaching their verdict in the month-long trial.
This is a developing story and we will update it as we learn more.
Tyler Pearson is a researcher at DL News. He is based out of Alberta, Canada. Got a tip? Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.