His four days of testimony are over, and Sam Bankman-Fried has step down from the witness stand this Tuesday (31). ‘That concludes the presentation of evidence in this case’, Judge Lewis Kaplan announced.
Closing arguments are to begin on Wednesday.
While virtually every analyst predicts him to be a day closer to a conviction and a maybe even a decades-long sentence, there’s still god reasons for the disgraced crypto bro to be relieved.
His risky decision to testify did not pan out quite as expected.
“Tuesday’s testimony delivered some of the most potentially damning blows yet to his defense, which has hinged on Bankman-Fried’s narrative that he made honest mistakes as a startup founder.”
Prosecutors say former billionaire Bankman-Fried used his costumers’ money to enrich himself and his family, buy luxury beachfront property in the Bahamas and funnel millions into US political campaigns.
He has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fraud and conspiracy.
When SBF testified that he knew ‘as early as 2020’ that FTX customer funds were being held in a bank account controlled by FTX’s sister company, the hedge fund Alameda Research, the government countered showing that that he was misrepresenting key aspects of his business to investors, customers and lawmakers in Congress.
“His decision to testify is seen as a Hail Mary from a defense that has struggled to poke holes in the testimony of several high-ranking executives from Bankman-Fried’s former inner circle.
US Assistant Attorney Danielle Sassoon continued her aggressive cross-examination Tuesday morning, highlighting, among other things, that Bankman-Fried appeared to have a cozy relationship with members of the Bahamian government.
[…] Bankman-Fried also testified that he doesn’t recall ever directing Alameda employees not to spend the FTX customer deposits. When he later discovered in the fall of 2022 that Alameda owed $8 billion to FTX, no one was fired.”
The defendant said that after he handed off the role of Alameda CEO to Caroline Ellison, he stepped back from the firm significantly, was not involved in day-to-day trading.
“Sam Bankman-Fried’s personality was drawn out on the witness stand. In his direct testimony, fielding friendly questions from his own attorney, he was focused and confident. The cross-examination Monday drew out a different SBF, appearing to take aim at his duplicitous side. The former FTX chief was evasive and visibly annoyed while answering questions from prosecutor Danielle Sassoon.
When he said he didn’t remember or distanced himself from certain documents or communications, Sassoon produced government exhibits proving otherwise. And she made him read those documents aloud.”
The former billionaire is a young man so accustomed to controlling his own narrative, and he seemed to unravel as he was being checked.
The prosecution kept bringing the ‘receipts’, like a message to a journalist that read: ‘Yeah. Just PR. F*** regulators’.
“When SBF was asked how involved he was in his hedge fund Alameda Research’s trading decisions, he said: ‘Depends on how you define trading’. At another point, he played with the definition of ‘margin trading.”
Prosecutor Sassoon: ‘Just to be clear, Mr. Bankman-Fried, taking money from FTX to pay back lenders, that’s not margin trading, is it?’ SBF: ‘I’m not — I don’t think that’s what happened, and I’m also not saying that’s not margin trading’.”
SBF’s frustration reportedly peaked when Prosecutor Sassoon presented a document on FTX key principles. Not an ordinary one, but one submitted to Congress in 2022. It read that FTX would maintain ‘adequate liquid resources to ensure the platform can return the customer’s assets upon request’.
“When asked to read a portion of this document aloud, SBF mocked an informercial-like voice. The bottom line: Not the best face to present to a jury that is days from deliberating and delivering a verdict.”
Read more about SBF: