Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is entering its final phase, with the prosecution planning to wrap up its case on October 26 after presenting nearly 20 testimonies during the past few weeks.
Over the course of three weeks, the prosecution called a diverse group of witnesses, including former FTX employees, customers, investors, government officials, and law enforcement agents. The central argument in this case revolves around the allegation that Bankman-Fried intentionally deceived all these individuals and played a key role in the decisions that led to an $8 billion discrepancy between FTX and Alameda Research in November 2022.
Regarding Bankman-Fried’s defense, it remains uncertain whether they will present a case. In criminal trials, it’s not mandatory for the defense to provide their own case. If they choose to present a defense, it will commence on October 26.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team, headed by Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, has faced challenges in constructing a persuasive narrative for the jurors. Notably, during cross-examination of Bankman-Fried’s former close associates, including Caroline Ellison, Nishad Singh, Adam Yedidia, and Gary Wang, the attorneys missed critical arguments. These individuals, now cooperating with the government, have accused Bankman-Fried of directing them to engage in illegal activities.
An attorney closely following the trial explained that when the government initiates a case, there is a 95% likelihood of an indictment, underscoring the substantial hurdle facing the defense. However, it is the prosecutors who bear the responsibility of proving the alleged crimes.
One of the highlights of the previous week in court was the testimony of a former engineering director at FTX, Nishad Singh. Singh informed the jurors that Bankman-Fried had instructed him to make substantial venture investments financed by loans from Alameda. Singh stated that he was unaware that these funds were linked to deposits from FTX customers. Singh himself faces potential imprisonment of up to 75 years for charges related to defrauding users of the cryptocurrency exchange.
In recent days, District Judge Lewis Kaplan expressed frustration with lawyers representing both sides after a witness who had fled Texas for the trial testified for a mere 15 minutes.
“We had a witness this morning who knew absolutely nothing… and this afternoon we fly somebody in from Texas […] he knows nothing or next to nothing,” Judge Kaplan remarked, voicing dissatisfaction with the strategies of both the prosecutors and the defense.
Additionally, in the past few days, FTX’s former general counsel, Can Sun, presented a spreadsheet that tracked $2.1 billion in loans to Bankman-Fried and other executives. Can Sun stated that he was unaware of the commingling of funds between the exchange and Alameda and is cooperating with the government in the case.
If convicted of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, Bankman-Fried could potentially face a prison sentence of up to 115 years.”