During his testimony, Sam Bankman-Fried, a key figure in the crypto world and co-founder of Alameda Research, experienced moments of uncertainty when questioned by US Assistant Attorney Danielle Sassoon. Sam Bankman-Fried faced queries about Alameda Research, the crypto trading firm he co-founded, and assertions related to his bankrupt trading firm being subject to the same regulations as other FTX customers.
Sam Bankman-Fried takes the stand as a witness
This testimony marked Sam Bankman-Fried as one of the final witnesses in his lengthy criminal trial. Accused of seven counts of fraud and conspiracy, he stands accused by the government of misappropriating billions of dollars from FTX customers via Alameda. Under Sassoon’s questioning, Bankman-Fried frequently responded with uncertainty, expressing an inability to recall specific details about his tenure as CEO of FTX. His repeated answers of “I don’t recall” starkly contrasted with the testimony delivered by his lawyers earlier in the day.
Earlier in the proceedings, the former crypto mogul required a reminder from US District Judge Lewis Kaplan to respond to questions “efficiently.” Despite his initial assertions to the jury that he did not commit fraud, his responses became more concise as the government intensified its inquiry. Sassoon probed Bankman-Fried on various topics, but he struggled to recollect specifics. Initially uncertain about whether he claimed FTX’s safety and later unable to recall if he had seen a specific balance sheet produced by a former CEO, Caroline Ellison, who had pleaded guilty to crimes related to FTX’s collapse.
Contrasting details come into play as the trial continues
Caroline Ellison’s testimony indicated that Bankman-Fried directed the creation of misleading balance sheets to reassure lenders post a crypto market downturn. However, Sam Bankman-Fried responded with uncertainty when presented with the document. To jog Bankman-Fried’s memory, the government referenced past tweets or writings attributed to him, particularly those related to customer representations and FTX’s stance on regulatory engagement. For instance, Sassoon referred to instances where he had expressed disdain for regulators, to which Bankman-Fried conceded once.
Echoes of the defense’s arguments were apparent in Bankman-Fried’s testimony. His earlier account, guided by his lawyer Mark Cohen, acknowledged errors in risk management, specifically the absence of a risk management team and the urgency of establishing protective hedges to safeguard Alameda against potential bankruptcy. Bankman-Fried’s narrative during the trial alluded to the challenges faced by FTX, attributing its collapse to a combination of plummeting prices and startup mistakes.
He recollected instances where concerns about Alameda’s unhedged positions led to discussions about the need for protective measures. Bankman-Fried’s testimony portrayed a mix of uncertainty and concise responses, contrasting the earlier assertions of confidence and management outlined by his legal team. His memory lapses and the scrutiny of his leadership decisions formed a pivotal part of the ongoing trial where the government questioned his credibility in the high-stakes legal battle.