Sam Bankman-Fried scheduled a number of high-profile meetings with political power players shortly before his cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed.
The former billionaire, 31, was set to speak with former President Bill Clinton, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Yasir Al Rumayyan, the head of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, shortly before his crypto empire collapsed in November 2022.
Evidence of the meetings was presented by prosecutors Tuesday at Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial in Manhattan.
The former crypto expert faces up to 115 years in prison for allegedly siphoning money from FTX clients to support his hedge fund Alameda Research, while financing his lavish lifestyle and political donations.
Sam Bankman-Fried pictured during a panel discussion with former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Crypto FTX/SALT conference in the Bahamas, April 2022
The former billionaire (pictured arriving at court on August 11, 2023) faces up to 115 years behind bars for charges including conspiracy and fraud in connection with the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange FTX in November 2022.
Bankman-Fried’s agenda at the height of his influence became a central focus of the proceedings on Tuesday, as government attorneys questioned FBI agent Richard Busick.
Busick had run an analysis on an AT&T phone allegedly used by Bankman-Fried, and he testified to a number of eyebrow-raising meetings and calendar appointments on his schedule.
The agent claimed that the scheduled meetings matched the phone’s location at the time, but Bankman-Fried’s attorneys questioned the accuracy of the location data during cross-examination.
According to the calendar invitations seen in court, one of Bankman-Fried’s meetings with Clinton was at the New York Hilton hotel in Midtown Manhattan in September 2022, about two months before FTX collapsed.
That same month, calendar invites showed he had an appointment with Al Rumayyan at the Pierre hotel in New York.
Bankman-Fried, who donated tens of millions to political causes while commanding his cryptocurrency empire, mainly to Democrats, also met with New York bigwigs.
The month before he met Clinton, he arranged a meeting with Hochul and also planned a dinner with New York Mayor Eric Adams in March 2022.
Bankman-Fried had also appeared on a panel with former President Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during a crypto conference in the Bahamas in April 2022.
Stars including Tom Brady, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom were also in attendance at the event, and footage showed the then billionaire happily partying with the A-listers.
As FTX rose to prominence, the crypto company made numerous political donations, with 62 members of Congress receiving money from the alleged fraudster.
Questions were raised over whether politicians should return the money, with former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison claiming in her testimony last week that he had donated $10 million to Joe Biden’s campaign to gain “influence and recognition.” acquire.
Bankman-Fried had a scheduled meeting with New York Governor Kathy Hochul (photo October 11, 2023) just months before the FTX collapsed
Phone records were presented in court on Tuesday claiming that Bankman-Fried had dinner with New York Mayor Eric Adams in March 2022 (pictured October 17, 2023).
Now, as he faces seven criminal charges in court in Manhattan, a number of former Bankman-Fried members have turned on him and testified against him after reaching plea deals.
After previously hearing testimony from his ex-girlfriend Ellison and Gary Wang, former FTX chief engineer Nishad Singh was cross-examined by Bankman-Fried lawyers on Tuesday.
Singh was questioned about a loan he took out from the doomed company just a month before it went bankrupt, which allowed him to buy a luxury vacation home on Orcas Island, Washington.
The 26-year-old insisted that at the time he “thought FTX would last for years,” despite some of the company’s internal leadership reportedly already suspecting the company was in financial trouble.
Under cross-examination by Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Singh admitted that the house he bought at the time was “egregious, unnecessary and selfish”, and claimed that he forfeited the property once allegations of fraud were made at the company.
“I was ashamed and embarrassed, and forfeiture seems like one of the ways to right the wrong, at least a little,” he added.
The loan Singh took out from FTX totaled $6 million, $3.7 of which went to the 10-acre vacation home on Orcas Island, according to the local news outlet The Island Siren.
His home forfeiture came as part of his agreement to plead guilty to six charges, including wire fraud Bloomberg.
Nishad Singh (pictured arriving at court on Monday with girlfriend Claire Watanabe) testified about a “blatant, unnecessary and selfish” loan he made to the company just a month before it went bankrupt
FTX co-founder Gary Wang testified against his former friend and is among the company’s top lieutenants to plead guilty in plea deals with the government
Caroline Ellison leaves Manhattan Federal Court in Manhattan, New York City on October 10, 2023
Singh also commented on the lavish lifestyles of FTX executives in the Bahamas at the height of their wealth, noting that he and his girlfriend Claire Watanabe lived in “the most beautiful room” in their sprawling $30 million Caribbean estate.
When asked if it seems excessive to live in such an expensive house, Singh said, “I really don’t know what’s reasonable for billionaires to do… I don’t know any other billionaires.”
He was asked about some of FTX’s political donations, with Singh reportedly leading the way. Under questioning, he acknowledged on Tuesday that he was not “obligated” to take on the role.
To provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the exchange’s donations, a group chat in Signal was shown in which Singh told political consultant Michael Sadowsky that he wanted to avoid supporting “explicitly woke things.”
Singh’s testimony comes amid speculation about whether Bankman-Fried will testify in his own defense after his lawyers demanded more Adderall to help him focus and decide whether to take the stand.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said the one dose of Adderall the disgraced founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange is receiving is not enough.
They claimed that the single dose every morning, which treats his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has worn off by the time the trial begins.
“As we approach the defense’s case and make the critical decision as to whether Mr. Bankman-Fried will testify, there is growing concern among the defense that Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lack of access to Adderall has prevented him from concentrating on the level at which he has been able to concentrate. would normally do,” his lawyers wrote.