A timeline of cryptocurrency exchange FTX's historic collapse

Bankman-Fried received a sentence of 25 years in prison on Thursday.

March 28, 2024, 12:08 PM

Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, was a 30-year-old crypto wunderkind who for years garnered goodwill as a philanthropist and leading proponent of industry regulation. Now, his ex-firm is bankrupt and he has been convicted of defrauding investors out of billions of dollars.

On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison.

Some crypto traders, who deposited their savings on the platform, may never get their money back.

Below is a timeline of the series of events that explains exactly how the company and its founder fell so far and so fast.

2024

Jan. 31 – A lawyer representing the bankruptcy estate of FTX said the firm expects to fully repay customers. "There is still a great amount of work and risk between us and that result, but we believe the objective is within reach, and we have a strategy to achieve it," FTX attorney Andrew Dietderich said at a court hearing.

Feb. 27 – Attorneys for Bankman-Fried filed a memo saying he should receive a prison sentence of between 5.25 and 6.5 years.

March 15 – Prosecutors said Bankman-Fried should receive 40 to 50 years in prison due to the "enormous scale of the fraud."

March 28 – A federal judge sentenced Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison. "This was a very serious crime," U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said.

2023

Jan. 3 – In a New York courtroom, Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he defrauded investors. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced that the trial would take place in October.

Jan. 12 – Bankman-Fried published a 2,300-word blog post rebuking the fraud and conspiracy charges, replete with charts and graphs. He said that he didn't steal customer funds, instead blaming the company's woes on a sharp downturn in the cryptocurrency market.

Aug. 11 – Bankman-Fried had his bail revoked and was immediately remanded to custody of the U.S. Marshals. Bankman-Fried had tampered with witnesses, prosecutors alleged, citing his decision to share Caroline Ellison’s personal writings with the New York Times. Thereafter, Bankman-Fried was housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn while he awaited trial.

Oct. 3 – Proceedings began in Bankman-Fried’s trial. Over the ensuing weeks, Ellison would become one of the prosecution’s star witnesses, saying Bankman-Fried did not think rules applied to him. Bankman-Fried testified in his own defense across three days of hearings.

Nov. 2 – A jury found Bankman-Fried guilty on all charges in his federal fraud and conspiracy trial. In all, the charges carry a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison.

2022

Nov. 2 – The collapse of FTX centers in part on the cryptocurrency exchange's close relationship with Alameda Research, a crypto hedge fund also founded by Bankman-Fried.

Major concerns about FTX started when news outlet CoinDesk published an article that found a significant portion of Alameda Research's assets consisted of FTT, a token created by FTX that allows users of the exchange to access discounted trading fees.

Because FTT cannot be easily exchanged for cash, the report stoked fears about the capital reserves at Alameda Research and thus FTX.

Nov. 6 – In response to the article, Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of rival crypto exchange Binance, often referred to as "CZ," said he would sell all of the company's holdings in FTT, which amount to $580 million worth of the token.

The major exit from a crypto heavyweight triggered a wider selloff, akin to a bank run, placing immense pressure on FTX to meet the sudden demand for customer withdrawals. Due to a lack of funds, FTX halted customer withdrawals altogether.

Nov. 8 – FTX reached a deal to sell itself to Binance, the crypto exchange whose executive had helped trigger the selloff.

"This is a user-centric development that benefits the entire industry," Bankman-Fried said. "CZ has done, and will continue to do, an incredible job of building out the global crypto ecosystem, and creating a freer economic world."

"The important thing is that customers are protected," he added.

Nov. 9 – Binance withdrew from the deal to acquire FTX.

"As a result of corporate due diligence, as well as the latest news reports regarding mishandled customer funds and alleged US agency investigations, we have decided that we will not pursue the potential acquisition of FTX.com.," Binance said.

Zhao, of Binance, summed up the decision in a tweet:

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department had begun investigating the FTX collapse, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sequoia Capital, a top venture firm, wrote down its roughly $210 million stake in FTX to $0.

"We are in the business of taking risks," Sequoia Capital said in a public letter. "Some investments will surprise to the upside, and some to the downside."

Nov. 10 – A Bahamian financial regulator froze the assets of FTX.

The Securities Commission of the Bahamas said it was aware of public statements suggesting that FTX's customer funds were potentially "mishandled" and "mismanaged."

PHOTO: In this May 11, 2021, file photo, Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and chief executive officer of FTX, is shown in Hong Kong.
In this May 11, 2021, file photo, Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and chief executive officer of FTX, is shown in Hong Kong.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Nov. 11 – FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections as it assesses the value of its remaining assets, a company announcement said.

Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO and was replaced with John J. Ray III, who steered disgraced energy company Enron through bankruptcy proceedings in the 2000s.

"The immediate relief of Chapter 11 is appropriate to provide the FTX Group the opportunity to assess its situation and develop a process to maximize recoveries for stakeholders," Ray said.

Nov. 12The Wall Street Journal reported that FTX lent customer deposits to Alameda Research to help it meet its liabilities, and top executives at Alameda Research were aware of it, raising further scrutiny about the relationship between Alameda Research and FTX.

Nov. 14 – The collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX became the subject of an investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

At issue, the sources said, is whether FTX violated securities laws when it reportedly gave customer funds to Alameda Research.

Nov. 16 – House lawmakers called on Bankman-Fried as well as executives at Alameda and Binance to testify in a hearing on Capitol Hill in December.

"The fall of FTX has posed tremendous harm to over one million users, many of whom were everyday people who invested their hard-earned savings into the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, only to watch it all disappear within a matter of seconds," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, this event is just one out of many examples of cryptocurrency platforms that have collapsed just this past year."

Meanwhile, celebrity boosters of FTX -- including Naomi Osaka, Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin O'Leary -- were sued in federal court in a class-action lawsuit alleging that false representations of a deceptive product were used to dupe vulnerable investors.

"I had no knowledge, nor did any of the other celebrities, of what occurred here," O'Leary, an entrepreneur and panelist on the TV show "Shark Tank," told ABC's "Nightline."

Later in the day, Vox published an interview in which Bankman-Fried disparages regulators using an expletive, confesses that his previous calls for tighter crypto regulation had been driven by public relations concerns and says he regrets the company declaring bankruptcy.

Bankman-Fried, a prolific philanthropist, in the interview described his public commitment to ethics as "a dumb game we woke westerners play."

Nov. 17 – John Ray, the incoming CEO who was installed to guide the company through bankruptcy proceedings, said in a court filing that he has never seen such a "complete failure" of corporate controls in his career, including during the Enron scandal.

"From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals," Ray said.

"This situation is unprecedented," he added.

Dec. 12 – Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas after federal prosecutors in New York filed criminal charges contained in a sealed indictment, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

A source familiar with the charges told ABC News that Bankman-Fried is facing a multi-count fraud indictment one month after FTX filed a $32 billion bankruptcy.

The arrest "followed receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges against SBF and is likely to request his extradition," the Bahamas Attorney General's Office said.

Dec. 13 – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Bankman-Fried with defrauding investors.

"FTX's collapse highlights the very real risks that unregistered crypto asset trading platforms can pose for investors and customers alike," said Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, in a statement.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Meredith Deliso, Mark Osborne, Mark Gaurino and Melissa Gaffney contributed to this report.

Related Topics

Trending Reader Picks

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news