Sam Bankman-Fried, 31, is on trial for the “biggest fraud in history” after “defrauding FTX customers out of $8 billion” that could get him a 110-YEAR sentence.
- The SBF fraud trial is the culmination of a year-long legal saga stemming from the crypto platform’s dramatic collapse.
- Prosecutors say the 31-year-old former billionaire embezzled clients to buy luxury properties and donate more than $100 million to political candidates.
- The explosive trial is expected to feature his ex-girlfriend and former senior lieutenant, Caroline Ellison, 29, as the prosecution’s star witness.
The trial of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried begins today, almost a year after his crypto exchange collapsed following alleged fraud totaling $8 billion.
The 31-year-old former billionaire will face a jury in a Manhattan court accused of embezzling funds from FTX clients to prop up his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy luxury properties and donate more than $100 million to US political candidates. .
He launched the company in 2019 and quickly grew it into a company worth tens of billions of dollars. Bankman-Fried recruited A-list celebrities, from Tom Brady to Larry David, to promote the company and also rubbed shoulders with prominent politicians such as Bill Clinton.
But the company suffered a catastrophic collapse in November 2022, leaving customers roughly $10 billion out of pocket, prosecutors claim. The saga shocked the markets and shattered SBF’s once divine reputation within the crypto industry.
An explosive trial is expected to feature his ex-girlfriend and former top lieutenant, Caroline Ellison, 29, as the prosecution’s star witness.
The 31-year-old former billionaire will face a jury in a Manhattan court accused of embezzling billions from customers of FTX, his failed cryptocurrency platform.
An explosive trial is expected to feature his ex-girlfriend and former senior lieutenant, Caroline Ellison, 29, as the prosecution’s star witness.
QUESTIONS FOR THE JURY
These are some of the questions Bankman-Fried’s attorneys intend to ask potential jurors during selection.
:: Do you have a negative opinion about cryptocurrencies?
:: If a company involved in the cryptocurrency industry or the financial industry fails, do you think only the owners of the company should be to blame?
:: Do you have any negative opinions about amassing wealth to support causes to improve the world or help others?
:: The defendant in this case has ADHD, which could affect things like his physical behavior, body language, or eye contact. Raise your hand if he has never had personal or professional experience with ADHD. Do you have any opinion about the fact that the defendant has ADHD?
The trial, overseen by Judge Lewis Kaplan, is scheduled to begin with jury selection at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Bankman-Fried acknowledged inadequate risk management but denied stealing funds. Their lawyers have said in court papers that they plan to argue that FTX’s treatment of client funds was appropriate and that others at FTX and Alameda bore most of the blame for its failure.
The trial is expected to last up to six weeks. It will feature testimony from three former members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, including Ellison, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to cooperate with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have signaled that they plan to challenge the credibility of those witnesses, who also include former FTX executives Gary Wang and Nishad Singh, arguing that they are motivated to implicate their client to obtain a lower sentence for themselves. a common blank strategy. collar fraud cases.
The case has been compared to the trial of Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for defrauding investors in her medical company of $945 million.
Potential jurors in Bankman-Fried’s case are expected to be asked if they have a negative view of cryptocurrencies and if they have any experience with ADHD, a condition Bankman-Fried suffers from.
Bankman-Fried, photographed sleeping on a bean bag, had a near-godlike reputation within the cryptocurrency industry, but prosecutors allege it was based on lies.
The case has been compared to the trial of Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who was jailed for 11 years for defrauding investors in her medical company of $945 million.
Like the Holmes case, it is likely to involve a lot of complicated financial evidence. It will also delve into the complex technology behind cryptocurrencies and trading, in a similar vein to the inclusion of complicated scientific evidence in the Holmes trial.
Bankman-Fried’s is the highest-profile case that US prosecutors have yet brought against a former cryptocurrency executive.
His indictment last December marked a spectacular fall from grace for Bankman-Fried, who had earned a reputation as a legitimate operator in an industry whose image was marred by scams and alleged get-rich-quick schemes.
Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried built that reputation on lies and bolstered it with endorsements from celebrities and star athletes.
Bankman-Fried has been held at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center since August 11, after the judge determined that he had likely tampered with witnesses, including by sharing Ellison’s personal writings with a journalist.
Most days you will be brought to court early so you can prepare with your attorneys.