Sam Bankman-Fried testifies in FTX fraud trial – follow live | Sam Bankman-Fried
The defendant took the stand early on Friday in Manhattan federal court. It’s a risky decision, as it opens him up to cross-examination later.
When defense attorney Mark Cohen asked what he wanted to accomplish in creating FTX, Bankman-Fried answered: “We thought we would be able to build the best [exchange] on the market.”
“Did it turn out that way?” Cohen asked.
“No,” Bankman-Fried said. “Basically, the opposite.”
“Did you defraud anyone?” asked Cohen.
“No, I did not,” said Bankman-Fried.
“Did you take customer funds?” Cohen followed up.
“No,” said Bankman-Fried. Previous witnesses have said that FTX, under the direction of Bankman-Fried, misappropriated billions of its customers’ dollars.
Yesterday, Bankman-Fried took the stand in an evidentiary hearing before Judge Lewis Kaplan to determine what testimony would be admissible. The jury was not present. The entrepreneur, 31, is charged with seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
If there’s a single question that has dominated SBF’s fraud trial so far, it can be summed up as: which version of this tech bro do you believe?
Prosecutors have cast Bankman-Fried as the mastermind of a $10bn fraud, among the largest and most nefarious in American history. They say he selfishly squandered the money of customers who put their trust in FTX. He lavished the cash on ritzy properties, ill-gotten influence, glamorous travel and the highest-profile ads, all while concealing a hidden mountain of debt, they allege.
His lawyers, by contrast, have done their best to portray him as a wayward boy genius – a “math nerd who didn’t drink or party”, according to his lawyers’ opening statement. They describe the motivation for his actions not as malice so much as inexperience with normal business operations.
Bankman-Fried’s decision to take the stand in his own defense will offer jurors a chance to consider, in his own words, which version they should believe.
In the second week of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto fraud trial, Manhattan federal prosecutors called their star witness to the stand: former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison. She delivered stunning, detailed testimony against the failed crypto mogul.
Her accusations offer a guide as to what Bankman-Fried may try and refute when he takes the stand today.
Here’s a recap of the five things we learned.
Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to testify in a New York City courtroom today, in what will likely be a blockbuster moment in the criminal fraud trial.
Bankman-Fried, 31, was charged with multiple crimes in the wake of the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX. Prosecutors say the founder siphoned billions from FTX customers to plug a shortfall at Alameda Research, a hedge fund connected to FTX, to make speculative investments, and to donate to political campaigns.
During the weeks-long trial, former business partners and members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle have taken the stand against him.
The prosecution’s star witness was Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and the former CEO of Alameda. She testified that he directed her to commit crimes, saying that he siphoned $10bn in customer funds from FTX to prop up Alameda after a crash in the crypto market.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.