FTX founder trial is big test for crypto

2 mins read

The highly anticipated trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, kicks off Tuesday in New York, in what is seen as a golden opportunity to bolster trust, boost adoption, and purge the sector of unscrupulous actors, according to a leading cryptocurrency advocate.

The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, commonly known as SBF, starts in Manhattan federal court and is expected to last six weeks.

He stands accused of defrauding numerous prominent investors worldwide, in addition to millions of customers who placed their trust in his FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

Allegations of pilfering billions of dollars entrusted to his care have further compounded the gravity of the situation, explained Nigel Green, CEO and founder of deVere Group, a leading independent financial advisory and fintech.

“The importance of this case cannot be underestimated. Not only for SBF, who faces 110 years of prison time, and the victims,” Green said.

“But also for digital currencies themselves – which are widely regard as the future of money.”

Sam Bankman-Fried in an interview during the Bitcoin 2021 conference

The trial has been labelled as the biggest legal battle in crypto history. But it also constitutes a formidable test, and its potential positive outcomes for the crypto market should not be wasted, Green said.

The aftermath of FTX’s staggering $40 bln bankruptcy in November 2022 has been characterised by US prosecutors as “one of the most significant financial frauds in the annals of American history.”

One issue that makes Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial of utmost importance to the cryptocurrency ecosystem is its potential to pave the way for regulatory harmony.

Need for regulations

“In the face of the burgeoning prominence of cryptocurrencies in the international financial system, governments and regulatory bodies worldwide find themselves grappling with the imperative need for consistent, all-encompassing regulations,” said the deVere CEO.

“This trial should serve as a catalyst propelling regulators toward the formulation of a unified framework, harmonising cryptocurrency regulations with the established norms governing traditional financial systems.

“Critics have long decried the lack of oversight and susceptibility to manipulation within cryptocurrency markets,” Green added.

“By subjecting Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX to the same regulations that traditional financial institutions abide by, this trial sends a resounding message on commitment to equitable and transparent practices.”

Green warned that the crypto market, like any other sector, is not immune to the presence of bad actors.

“The trial presents a unique opportunity to pinpoint and penalise individuals or entities which might have engaged in illicit pursuits. By holding alleged wrongdoers accountable, it underscores a dedication to expelling unscrupulous actors from this burgeoning sector, ultimately creating a safer environment for all participants, including retail and institutional investors.”

Investor confidence constitutes the linchpin for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.

“A meticulously conducted trial resulting in appropriate repercussions will inevitably boost trust among investors in the asset class.

“This trust would further attract investors, especially institutional investors, who bring huge capital, expertise and influence, thereby contributing to crypto’s broader acceptance.”