Sam Bankman-Fried Sealed His Fate Long Before the FTX Trial


The only authorized recommendation is to say nothing in any respect. Sam Bankman-Fried, founding father of crypto change FTX, who just lately took to the stand at his personal fraud trial, isn’t superb at that. However, more than likely, it received’t be his testimony that seals his destiny. It is going to be the monthlong media tour he launched into late final 12 months, after FTX fell.

Bankman-Fried is standing trial on seven counts of fraud in reference to the collapse of FTX. The change fell into bankruptcy after customers discovered they may not withdraw their funds, price billions of {dollars} in mixture. The cash was lacking, the US government claims, as a result of Bankman-Fried had funneled it right into a sibling firm, Alameda Analysis, and used it for dangerous trades, debt repayments, private loans, political donations, enterprise bets, and varied different functions.

Bankman-Fried recollects occasions in another way. On the stand, below questioning by his personal authorized counsel, he painted himself as a well-intentioned however overworked businessperson. He conceded that expensive errors had been made with respect to threat administration, however claimed by no means to have defrauded anybody. For each doubtlessly incriminating side of the connection between FTX and Alameda—the sharing of financial institution accounts, particular buying and selling privileges, and multibillion-dollar loans—there was a logical enterprise clarification. The association was completely above board, he implied.

This line of argument, says Daniel Richman, a former prosecutor and professor at Columbia Legislation Faculty, was the “most viable path to take” for the protection, whose choices had been “considerably restricted” by the energy of cooperating witness testimony. But it surely was a Hail Mary nonetheless, in no small half as a result of Bankman-Fried, in his parade of interviews previous to his arrest, had given the prosecution size upon size of rope with which to hold him.

The choice for Bankman-Fried to take the stand was a high-risk play with important potential draw back. Though it gave him the possibility to relay his personal model of occasions, it uncovered him to questioning by the prosecution. If he had been to perjure himself and later be convicted, he risked a harsher sentence too. However to mount the “good religion” protection, says Paul Tuchmann, a former prosecutor and associate at legislation agency Wiggin and Dana, testifying was the one out there possibility. “It’s very onerous to make that protection with out calling the consumer to the stand,” he says, when “the folks closest to him testified the other.”

Bankman-Fried’s legal professionals can be happy, says Tuchmann, along with his efficiency in direct examination. The purpose was to “current another narrative of occasions,” he says, and provides Bankman-Fried the chance to attraction to the sympathies of the jury, one thing the protection was capable of obtain.

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