Sam Bankman-Fried Trial Moves to Final Stages – Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is entering its final phase in the coming days, with the prosecution planning to conclude their case on October 26 after hearing nearly 20 testimonies. The prosecution has called a variety of witnesses in the past three weeks, including former FTX employees, customers, investors, government officials, and law enforcement agents.
At the core of the trial is the argument that Bankman-Fried deliberately misled these individuals and played a role in the decisions that led to the $8 billion discrepancy between FTX and Alameda Research in November 2022. As for Bankman-Fried’s defense team, it remains uncertain whether they will present a case, as in criminal trials, there is no obligation for attorneys to do so.
Assuming they decide to present a defense, it will commence on October 26. Bankman-Fried’s legal team, led by Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, has faced challenges in crafting a persuasive narrative for the jurors. During the cross-examination of key witnesses who were once his close friends, such as Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh, Adam Yedidia, and Gary Wang, the attorneys missed crucial arguments.
This group, which cooperated with the government, accused Bankman-Fried of directing them to engage in illegal activities. An attorney who has been observing the trial noted that when the government initiates a case, there is a 95% likelihood of indictment, underscoring the considerable difficulty faced by the defense. However, it’s important to remember that prosecutors bear the responsibility of proving the alleged crimes.
One notable moment in the previous week of the trial was the testimony of FTX’s former engineering director, Singh, who revealed that Bankman-Fried instructed him to make high-value venture investments using loans from Alameda. Singh stated that he was unaware that these funds were linked to deposits from FTX customers. Singh himself is facing charges related to defrauding crypto exchange users, which could lead to a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison.
The week also witnessed district court Judge Lewis Kaplan’s frustration with the lawyers representing both sides, particularly when a witness who had fled Texas for the trial testified for only about 15 minutes. “We had a witness this morning who knew absolutely nothing and this afternoon we fly somebody in from Texas […] he knows nothing or next to nothing,” Kaplan said, complaining about prosecutors and the defense’s witnesses strategies.
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Furthermore, over the recent days, FTX’s previous general counsel, Can Sun, introduced a spreadsheet detailing $2.1 billion in loans extended to Bankman-Fried and other executives. Can Sun, in his testimony, indicated that he had no knowledge of the exchange’s mingling of funds with Alameda. It’s important to note that he is also cooperating with the government in this case. If found guilty of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, Bankman-Fried could potentially face a maximum prison sentence of 115 years.