Sam Bankman-Fried painted by means of US as ‘cool animated film villain’, his attorney says






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Sam Bankman-Fried has been painted as a “cool animated film villain” by means of prosecutors whose case relies in large part on hindsight, the previous cryptocurrency wealthy person’s legal professionals informed a Ny jury on Wednesday as they laid out their defence firstly of the hotly expected legal trial. 

In opening arguments previous on Wednesday, US prosecutors had accused Bankman-Fried of committing “fraud on a large scale”, mendacity to traders, lenders and shoppers of his FTX crypto exchanges.

“This guy stole billions of greenbacks from hundreds of folks,” assistant US legal professional Thane Rehn informed jurors, pointing forcefully at Bankman-Fried, who sat impassively on the defence desk.  

Bankman-Fried used the proceeds of a crypto empire “constructed on lies” to shop for lavish homes and courtroom celebrities comparable to Tom Brady, in addition to politicians together with former Democratic president Invoice Clinton, Rehn mentioned.

However Mark Cohen, a attorney for Bankman-Fried, replied in a soft-spoken opening that his shopper — whom he addressed as “Sam” — was once the sufferer of a “hindsight case” and had acted in excellent religion.

“He was once a math nerd who didn’t drink or birthday celebration,” Cohen informed the jury. “Taking one thing out of context and in hindsight and calling it incorrect isn’t evidence past an inexpensive doubt.”

The duelling statements kicked off what is predicted to be a six-week trial to make a decision the destiny of the 31-year-old former billionaire, who was once till ultimate yr one of the most main figures within the freewheeling international of cryptocurrency buying and selling. 

Bankman-Fried, who sat in courtroom dressed in a gray go well with, has officially denied the costs and maintained his innocence in a lot of media interviews given ahead of he was once jailed in August for allegedly making an attempt to intimidate witnesses. Prosecutors showed on Tuesday that they’d now not at any time presented Bankman-Fried a plea deal.

The prosecutors’ case rests closely at the testimony of 3 central witnesses, former lieutenants to Bankman-Fried who agreed to co-operate with the federal government. The primary of those witnesses, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, an established good friend of Bankman-Fried’s, will most likely take the stand ahead of the tip of the week, the federal government mentioned.

Rehn informed the jury the witnesses “will provide you with an insider view of the way the defendant’s crimes took place”. He mentioned Bankman-Fried used his former “female friend” Caroline Ellison — the executive govt of FTX’s sister company, crypto hedge fund Alameda — “as a entrance” to lend a hand cover his keep watch over of the corporate.

The trial will hinge at the credibility of those witnesses. “Watch out as you listen from them,” Cohen informed the jurors, announcing their hopes of receiving lighter sentences gave them an incentive to substantiate the federal government’s tale.

Cohen mentioned Bankman-Fried had instructed Ellison to hedge Alameda’s dangerous cryptocurrency investments in early 2022, however she didn’t, worsening the monetary crunch when crypto costs collapsed later within the yr.

“He depended on her and he depended on her,” Cohen mentioned. As a hectic leader govt, Bankman-Fried “may just [not] be all over the place and do the whole thing”.

Prosecutors mentioned they are going to additionally name FTX traders to testify, in addition to shoppers who suffered from the corporate’s chapter.

A who’s who of most sensible Silicon Valley and Wall Boulevard traders sponsored FTX with about $1.8bn ahead of its cave in. Matt Huang, from challenge company Paradigm, will probably be known as to testify this week, prosecutors mentioned.

The case is being heard by means of a jury of 12 contributors and 6 alternates, whittled down from a gaggle of virtually 50. The pass judgement on quizzed would-be jurors on their stories with cryptocurrencies and prior wisdom of the case. The chosen jury accommodates 3 males and 9 girls, together with a social employee, a highschool librarian and a retired corrections officer.

Pass judgement on Lewis Kaplan requested the jurors if they’d watched a Sunday interview with writer Michael Lewis, who had shadowed Bankman-Fried for months ahead of and all through his fall from grace for his newest e book, which was once printed on Tuesday. Lewis, who mentioned FTX had “a perfect actual trade” informed CBS Information the e book was once meant to be a “more or less letter to the jury”.

On Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard from a London-based commodities dealer who traded crypto on FTX and misplaced cash when it collapsed. Prosecutors offered Bankman-Fried’s tweets from the corporate’s ultimate week, which informed shoppers their property had been “high-quality”.

The jury noticed an explainer video on crypto produced by means of FTX, together with a pleasant cool animated film of SBF lounging at his multi-screen buying and selling table. Prosecutors additionally performed the FTX Tremendous Bowl commercial from 2022 that includes comic Larry David, and confirmed photos of the $30mn Bahamas penthouse the place Bankman-Fried lived along with his closest mates.

One of the crucial roommates, FTX developer Adam Yedidia, a pal of Bankman-Fried’s since school at MIT, started attesting in a while ahead of the courtroom wrapped up for the day and can proceed on Thursday.

After the consultation concluded, Bankman-Fried’s folks, regulation professors Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, stood silently gazing their son from a brief distance as he conferred with legal professionals on the defence desk.

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