In a landmark decision, the US Court has found FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried guilty of seven criminal charges with the sentencing hearing scheduled in March 2024. As we know, SBF’s inner circle – Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh – have given their testimonies over the past few weeks.
All three individuals stated that Bankman-Fried instructed them to engage in fraudulent activities by assisting in the transfer of billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to Alameda, an affiliated hedge fund primarily owned (90%) by Bankman-Fried.
Their accounts were further supported by the fact that they had already admitted guilt in connection with the offense as part of cooperation agreements reached with prosecutors.
Cooperating witnesses often get less severe punishments, especially when they help the government catch a bigger culprit. Bankman-Fried, who was a prominent figure in the crypto industry, has been convicted of a crime, and his conviction is a significant win for the government.
Ellison, Wang, and Singh, who testified against Bankman-Fried (SBF), are likely to receive very light or even no prison sentences, according to several lawyers familiar with the case. In contrast, Bankman-Fried may face decades in prison when he’s sentenced in March.
The three witnesses will probably be sentenced after him, and the prosecutors will write a letter to the judge explaining how helpful their cooperation was. While judges don’t have to follow these letters, they usually do to encourage other witnesses in different cases to testify.
Wang mentioned during the trial that he hopes to receive no prison time, if possible, according to what prosecutors asked him.
If they do end up serving time, it’s likely to be relatively short, and there’s a good chance they will be in a minimum security camp where non-violent offenders are held, as explained by Justin Paperny, a former UBS Group AG broker who served 18 months for fraud.
Even if they don’t go to jail, Ellison, Wang, and Singh are likely to encounter other consequences. The government might require them to give back the money they earned through fraud and compensate the victims who suffered losses. Since the government claims that FTX customers lost billions, this could be a significant financial obligation for them
Tim Howard, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan said: “If you are joining Team USA, you are required to make financial remuneration consistent with the facts. You don’t get a break on that.”
Singh has already agreed to give up numerous assets he obtained during his time at FTX or Alameda, including a $3.7 million home he purchased in the picturesque San Juan Islands of Washington state.
He has also committed to relinquishing his shares in the artificial intelligence startup Anthropic PBC, which he acquired for $40 million. This investment has grown in value since the FTX crisis.