The wildest moments from Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial testimony

0 20

Former FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the Federal Courthouse following a bail hearing ahead of his October trial, in New York City on July 26, 2023.

Former FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the Federal Courthouse following a bail hearing ahead of his October trial, in New York City on July 26, 2023.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried took one of his criminal trial’s more surprising moves by choosing to testify. Less surprising: The disgraced cryptocurrency mogul delivered four days of drama.

The trial, which began on Oct. 3, has put the Bay Area-born tech pariah through a ringer of blame, accusations and embarrassing testimony from former friends and colleagues. Unlike several of them, Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty, and his defense team decided to bring him to the stand to fight his federal charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering — all of which stem from his leadership of the failed crypto exchange FTX and the hedge fund Alameda Research.

Using reports from New York, SFGATE compiled some of the wackiest moments and takeaways from the former San Francisco Giants blogger’s closed-door testimony on Thursday, and his statements in front of the jury late last week and early this week. Bankman-Fried, 31, was the last witness scheduled to take the stand at the trial. On Wednesday, lawyers are making their closing arguments.

Bankman-Fried failed his own ‘New York Times test’

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Bankman-Fried set most of the internal chats at his crypto exchange to “auto-delete,” a policy that, prosecutors have pointed out, has obscured much of FTX’s decision-making paper trail. On Thursday, Bankman-Fried reportedly explained away the secretive practice. He said he learned the habit, according to The Daily Beast, when he worked for the Jane Street Capital trading firm before he started his crypto empire — they called it the “New York Times test.”

“Anything that you write down might end up on the front page of the New York Times,” he reportedly testified, and added that words might lose the context they were said with.

It’s a lesson he didn’t appear to heed in the rest of his time as the face of the massive crypto exchange. Bankman-Fried appeared often on television, allowed Berkeley author Michael Lewis access to his day-to-day life and even spoke with journalists over direct message on Twitter (“f–k regulators,” he reportedly DM’d Vox’s Kelsey Piper) — right through his firm’s collapse. Those public statements came back to bite Bankman-Fried on Monday, reports say, when federal prosecutor Danielle Sassoon guided him and the jury through embarrassing statements and contradictions (more on that in a moment).

He’d eventually tell the jury on Monday that he disagreed with “basically every article” written about him, per the Times. On Tuesday, he testified that he spoke with 50 different journalists in the month of FTX’s collapse, per the Wall Street Journal — not exactly the behavior of man dead set on staying off the front page.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Bankman-Fried, ex-girlfriend disagree on the story of fraud, the point of his haircut

Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and former CEO of Alameda Research, testified earlier in the trial under a plea agreement with prosecutors — she admitted guilt, but pointed blame for the crimes at her former partner and boss. At one point, Ellison testified that Bankman-Fried asked her to come up with “alternative” ways of presenting Alameda Research’s problematic balance sheet, according to the crypto news site Blockworks. Per the site, she then said he picked the seventh tab of an eight-tab spreadsheet and told her to send the fake accounting to a major crypto lender.

Caroline Ellison, former chief executive officer of Alameda Research, leaves Manhattan Federal Court after testifying during the trial of FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, on October 10, 2023 in New York City. 

Caroline Ellison, former chief executive officer of Alameda Research, leaves Manhattan Federal Court after testifying during the trial of FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, on October 10, 2023 in New York City. 

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Bankman-Fried had a different narrative. He testified that he didn’t recall discussing alternatives or planning to falsify documents, according to Blockworks. “I don’t specifically remember there being eight tabs,” Bankman-Fried said Monday, casting doubt on whether he received Ellison’s document at all.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Then, according to Blockworks, the prosecutor told Bankman-Fried they had Google metadata showing he opened up the eight-tab document in June 2022. Again, he said he didn’t remember.

With potential major financial malfeasance in question, it seemed like a rare distraction to talk about the defendant’s hairdo. But Ellison weighed in on her ex’s messy, grown-out hair during her testimony, according to Business Insider, telling the jury that he felt the outgrown look was “essential to his image” and that he thought it’d gotten him higher bonuses at Jane Street. 

Bankman-Fried and his lawyers spent time rebutting the cosmetics narrative, too. “I was kind of busy and lazy and didn’t bother getting a haircut for long periods of time,” Bankman-Fried told the jury Friday, adding the T-shirt and shorts were just “comfortable.”

A prosecutor made Bankman-Fried read a book about himself on the stand

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

One of the bizarre pieces of lore about Bankman-Fried — who was raised by two Stanford law professor parents and went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — is that he hates books. 

Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, parents of Sam Bankman-Fried, arrive at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City on October 27, 2023.

Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, parents of Sam Bankman-Fried, arrive at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City on October 27, 2023.

ANDREA RENAULT/AFP via Getty Images

In September 2022, Bankman-Fried told a writer doing a profile for the venture capital firm Sequoia’s website that he “would never read a book.” The interview’s been scrubbed off the firm’s site, but Lit Hub has the excerpt in question: “I’m very skeptical of books,” Bankman-Fried continued. “I don’t want to say no book is ever worth reading, but I actually do believe something pretty close to that. I think, if you wrote a book, you f–ked up, and it should have been a six-paragraph blog post.”

On Monday, Sassoon introduced “Number Go Up,” a book by Bloomberg reporter Zeke Faux about Bankman-Fried and FTX, as evidence in the trial. Then, reports say, she had the crypto mogul turn to a few different pages and try to refresh his memory.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

It was an exercise that seemed aimed at discrediting Bankman-Fried before the jury — Sassoon, per a transcript posted by Faux, had Bankman-Fried turn to moments in the book where he told the reporter that Alameda was getting special treatment from FTX, a key argument for the prosecution. He did eventually concede that Alameda had a credit line with FTX that allowed it to borrow up to $65 billion, unlike other firms, the Times reported. But on the witness stand, facing the actual statements he’d made in years prior, Bankman-Fried’s testimony mostly hinged on one phrase, according to Faux’s posts: “I don’t recall.”

Hear of anything happening at a Bay Area tech company? Contact tech reporter Stephen Council securely at [email protected] or on Signal at 628-204-5452.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Source link

DMCA compliant image

Denial of responsibility! YoursTelecast is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.