- The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) has entered its final stages.
- In closing arguments, the prosecution has attempted to dismantle the narrative from the former FTX founder’s defense.
- The former crypto golden boy faces high stakes with the possibility of life in prison.
The fate of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) hangs in the balance as his criminal trial enters its final stages. On Wednesday, November 1, the Department of Justice (DOJ) kicked off closing arguments in a final appeal to the jury to hold Bankman-Fried liable for FTX’s collapse and customer losses.
DOJ: SBF Trial is About Greed, Stealing & Lies
In opening remarks in October 2023, the defense attempted to paint Bankman-Fried as an inexperienced captain at the helm of a billion-dollar empire that made innocent albeit disastrous mistakes at the peak of a turbulent time for the broader crypto industry.
On Wednesday, however, summarizing the case on behalf of the prosecution, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos reportedly told the jury that Bankman-Fried’s case was not a complex case about crypto but one about greed, stealing, and lies.
Building on testimony from former insiders, Roos argued that the former FTX chief directed the misappropriation of customer funds to purchase lavish property, cover loans, and make political donations without disclosure to customers and investors.
While the defense has contended that FTX’s terms of service did not create a trust relationship and were vague enough to allow for this spending, Roos begged to differ. The U.S. Attorney asserted that the thousands of FTX customers who lost money in the exchange’s collapse did not sign up for it.
Bankman-Fried could not have been ignorant of the spending that led to FTX’s $10 billion hole, Roos continued. The attorney stressed that to acquit the defendant, the jury would have to ignore the mountain of evidence and insider testimony and believe that the MIT graduate was “clueless.”
"The defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on each and every one of these charges. He was lying to the public and he repeated the same lies on the witness stand. He told Congress and the public they can view the assets they own, held in custody by FTX. Not true: behind the scenes, the money wasn't there," Roos asserted.
SBF Faces High Stakes
In November 2022, leading crypto exchange FTX stunned the crypto and financial world by declaring bankruptcy amid a panicked rush of customer withdrawals. Further investigation revealed that the exchange had an estimated $10 billion hole in its balance sheet and, as such, could not meet its customer obligations. Per the prosecution, this hole resulted from the misappropriation of customer funds at the behest of Bankman-Fried.
But faced with multiple fraud charges and possibly over 115 years in prison, the FTX founder maintains that he never intended to defraud customers and investors.
Bankman-Fried’s defense is built on three pillars. One is the idea that FTX terms of service allowed the spending. Two is that these actions were taken with the guidance of legal counsel, and lastly, that Alameda’s dire shape was the result of Caroline Ellison’s poor risk management.
However, unlike Ellison, Bankman-Fried struggled to give a convincing telling of the chain of events that led to FTX’s collapse when questioned on the stand. The former crypto golden boy often resorted to evasive tactics only to be called out by evidence from the prosecution.
On the Flipside
- Closing arguments are ongoing, and the defense will also have its say.
- The outcome of jury trials can be difficult to predict.
Why This Matters
The trial’s outcome will decide the fate of the former crypto wunderkind. Closing arguments from the prosecution draw a dark cloud on Bankman-Fried’s prospects.
Read this to learn more about SBF’s struggles during cross-examination:
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