SBF Concludes Testimony, Defense Rests Case
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried completed his grueling three-day testimony in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.
Being careful with his word choice, Bankman-Fried faced intense questioning from US Assistant Attorney Danielle Sassoon regarding his role in FTX’s demise.
SBF’s potential corruption with members of the Bahamian Government
Sassoon began her cross-examination of the defendant by scrutinizing his “cozy” relationship with members of the Bahamian Government, including Prime Minister Philip Davis. Sassoon pressed Bankman-Fried on his alleged offer to pay off the Bahamas’ $11 billion debt, to which the defendant stated he could not recall. Moreover, the prosecution revealed that Davis and his wife were given court-side seats at FTX Arena in Miami.
The prosecution then showed the jury a message from a group chat Bankman-Fried was a part of referring to former CEO of FTX Digital Markets, Ryan Salame, as “essentially” a member of the Bahamian Government. Shortly after, a clip of former US president, Bill Clinton, and Bankman-Fried with Davis and former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, at a private dinner in April of 2022 was played for the court. Also in attendance was singer Katy Perry and actor Russell Bloom, whom Bankman-Fried had previously attended the Super Bowl with alongside Michael Kives, the founder of Bankman-Fried bankrolled venture capital firm K5 Global.
Sassoon then presented an email from Bankman-Fried where the disgraced founder claimed he “would be more than happy to open up withdrawals for Bahamian customers” despite closing withdrawals following FTX’s collapse. Bankman-Fried continued that he “briefly” allowed for the exchange to give Bahamian customers priority access to withdraw these funds.
“I don’t recall”
The disgraced “king of crypto” continued to fail to provide details regarding potentially incriminating information during his time on the stand, often curtly stating, “I don’t recall” when asked questions regarding his time running FTX.
At one point, Bankman-Fried acknowledged that numerous of his multi-million and billion-dollar venture investments were not, in fact, margin trades, following his testimony that repaying third-party lenders with money from FTX’s exchange could be considered as such yesterday.
Judge Kaplan, who previously described Bankman-Fried as having an “interesting way” in regards to responding to questions, was clearly frustrated by the defendant’s unresponsiveness. At one point, Judge Kaplan demanded, “Mr. Bankman-Fried, just answer the question.”
Bankman-Fried knew of FTX executive’s guilt before he was charged
In a final striking moment for the defense, Sassoon brought up evidence suggesting he knew FTX’s former director of engineering, Nishad Singh, was guilty in the fraud scheme despite he himself denying any wrongdoing.
Pulling notes from Bankman-Fried’s Google account, Sassoon revealed a document wherein the FTX founder wrote: “Nishad: no plea deal, nothing… they’ll do it whenever they get past whatever the blocker is.”
“You wrote that,” Sassoon asked.
“I think so,” Bankma-Fried replied.
Closing arguments will be presented tomorrow morning, with the jury set to begin deliberations shortly after. If convicted, Bankman-Fried faces what could be the rest of his life in prison.