Sam Bankman-Fried trial moves to final stages

Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is reaching its final stages over the next few days, with the prosecution scheduled to rest their case on Oct. 26 following the examination of almost 20 testimonies in the case.

The prosecution presented a lineup of witnesses over the past three weeks, including former FTX employees, customers, investors, government officials, and law enforcement agents. At the heart of the case is the central argument that Bankman-Fried intentionally deceived all of them and that he was behind the decisions resulting in the $8 billion gap between FTX and Alameda Research in November 2022.

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As for Bankman-Fried’s defense, they still haven’t confirmed whether they will waive the case. In criminal trials, attorneys aren’t required to present a defense. Assuming his legal team will present a case, it will also begin on Oct. 26.

Bankman-Fried’s counsel, led by Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, has struggled to present a narrative to jurors. The attorneys even missed crucial arguments during the cross-examination of his former closest friends, including Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh, Adam Yedidia, and Gary Wang. Cooperating with the government, the group accused Bankman-Fried of directing them to commit crimes.

An attorney observing the trial told Cointelegraph that when a case is initiated by the government, there is a 95% likelihood of indictment, underscoring the significant challenge faced by the defense. Prosecutors, however, have the burden of proving the alleged crimes.

Related: Caroline Ellison wanted to step down but feared a bank run on FTX

Among the highlights of the previous week in court was the testimony of former FTX’s engineering director. Singh told jurors that Bankman-Fried instructed him to make millionaire venture investments via loans from Alameda. According to Singh, he didn’t know the funds were tied to FTX customer’s deposits. Singh faces up to 75 years in prison for charges related to defrauding users of the crypto exchange.

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The week also saw District Judge Lewis Kaplan run out of patience with lawyers representing both parties after a witness fleeing Texas for the trial testified for roughly 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,” Judge Kaplan said, complaining about prosecutors and the defense’s witnesses strategies.

Also in the last few days, FTX’s former general counsel Can Sun presented a spreadsheet used to track $2.1 billion in loans to Bankman-Fried and other executives. Can was unaware of the exchange’s commingling of funds with Alameda, he told jurors. He is also cooperating with the government in the case.

Bankman-Fried could spend up to 115 years in prison if convicted of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

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Author: Ana Paula Pereira

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