Over the past three weeks, former employees and friends of Sam Bankman-Fried have testified that he planned to misappropriate billions of dollars of customer money from his FTX cryptocurrency exchange, which collapsed last year.
Witnesses have painted a picture of Mr Bankman-Fried, 31, as a controlling boss who instructed them to carry out the fraud. He said the FTX founder had known for months that the exchange had no way to pay out at least $8 billion in customer money that was used to buy lavish real estate, invest in other crypto companies, fund campaigns, This was done to contribute to and pay back the creditors for a trading. The firm which Mr. Bankman-Fried also controlled.
Here are highlights of the testimony of several of the prosecution’s witnesses – including Mr Bankman-Fried’s staff and on-again, off-again girlfriend, Caroline Ellison – who have been at the center of the case:
The prosecution’s first witness was Adam Yedidia, a former FTX developer who was a close friend of Mr Bankman-Fried and lived with him and other associates in the Bahamas.
Mr. Yedidia, who has not been charged with any crimes and testified under immunity, said Mr. Bankman-Fried knew that FTX and Alameda Research, a sister crypto trading firm, were in trouble.
Mr Yedidia described a conversation he had with Mr Bankman-Fried on a paddle tennis court the summer before FTX’s collapse, as the crypto market crashed and Alameda’s lenders were demanding their money back. Mr Yedidia said Mr Bankman-Fried had told him that FTX was “bulletproof last year, but we are not bulletproof this year” and that it would take six months to three years to make the company “bulletproof again”.
Ms Ellison, who ran the Alameda and was a former girlfriend of Mr Bankman-Fried, was the government’s star witness. He detailed the close relationship between Alameda and FTX, including several instances when, he said, Mr. Bankman-Fried directed or greenlighted the use of FTX’s customer deposits.
Ms. Ellison, who has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is cooperating with prosecutors, said Mr. Bankman-Fried was eager to buy back FTX shares from Binance, a rival crypto exchange. She was apprehensive about the move, she said, because she knew it would mean borrowing $1 billion of FTX client funds to finance the transaction.
“It’s OK, I think it’s really important, we have to get this done,” Mr. Bankman-Fried told Ms. Ellison, according to her testimony.
Ms. Ellison also gave insight into Mr. Bankman-Fried’s mindset, detailing their relationships and his somewhat unorthodox view that the rules of not lying and not stealing were of less importance than those actions. Which he saw as the greater good.
FTX co-founder Mr Wang, who has pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, told the jury that Mr Bankman-Fried had instructed him to include features on the exchange that would help Alameda. Got profit on the platform. “In the end, it was Sam’s decision,” he testified.
The soft-spoken coder spent much of his time explaining the intricacies of FTX’s computer code, which supported prosecutors’ point that Almeida was deliberately given special privileges on the platform so he could use FTX customer deposits as if they were a piggy bank. .
Mr Wang met Mr Bankman-Fried at a high school math camp, and they were classmates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before founding FTX together in 2019.
Mr Singh, a former FTX executive who has also pleaded guilty, detailed Mr Bankman-Fried’s lavish spending – which included large real estate purchases and political donations – which was bankrolled by FTX customer deposits.
Mr Singh said he had given access to his bank accounts to other associates to make political donations under his name, including Mr Bankman-Fried’s younger brother, Gabe, who runs the non-profit group Guarding Against Pandemics. Were. At one point, when the credit wire wasn’t going through, Gabe Bankman-Fried sent one of his assistants to the Bahamas “with a lot of checks from my bank account,” Mr. Singh testified.
Prosecutors also showed an email exchange between Mr. Singh and Mr. Bankman-Fried’s mother, Barbara Fried, who was receiving $1 million from FTX for her nonprofit, Mind the Gap. Ms. Fried, a Stanford law professor, suggested that Mr. Singh donate under his own name “because we don’t want to give the impression that funding MTG is a family affair, as opposed to a collective effort of many people (including Is) some mysterious person Nishad Singh :)).”
Mr. Sun, the former top FTX lawyer, testified that Mr. Bankman-Fried had pressured him to find legal justification for the exchange’s repeated misuse of billions of clients’ money — even as Mr. Told the boss there was nothing like that.
At Mr. Bankman-Fried’s urging, Mr. Sun said, he considered some theoretical options to justify borrowing and spending FTX client funds. But Mr. Sun, who testified after securing an agreement that prosecutors would not pursue charges against him, said he had once again told Mr. Bankman-Fried that neither of those options were “supported by the facts.” . Mr. Bankman-Fried responded by saying, “Something like, ‘Got it,'” Mr. Sun testified.
Prosecutors then played a clip of an interview that Mr. Bankman-Fried gave to ABC’s “Good Morning America” in November, days before FTX filed for bankruptcy. In that interview, Mr. Bankman-Fried offered one of the theoretical options that Mr. Sun had provided him as an explanation of what happened to FTX’s client funds.