Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the trial of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried closed their arguments with similar stories to their opening statements more than three weeks ago: a tale of two Sams.
On Wednesday morning, day 17 of the trial, the government took jurors on a final grand tour of Bankman-Fried’s alleged lies, evasions and misdirections that they said aimed to hide the ugly truth of a gaping $8 billion hole in the crypto exchange’s balance sheet from investors and regulators, and that reflected his indifference to spending customer assets.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos said that as the person overseeing FTX and the separate trading entity, Alameda Research, to which FTX funneled customer deposits, Bankman-Fried was the only person who could have been responsible for decisions that led to the deficit – criminally so.
“He told a story and he lied to you,” said Roos, who punctuated his more than two-hour presentation with metadata readings and time tables that seemed to devastatingly illustrate SBF’s ongoing awareness of his company’s financial debacle.
But in the afternoon, Bankman-Fried’s defense team portrayed him in softer tones, as a math nerd with no ill-intent and guilty only of bad management, particularly his failure to install adequate risk management protections. Attorney Mark Cohen said that the government had failed to prove its case as it sought to create a Hollywood villain responsible for the disappearance of the funds, cartooning his dress and personal habits to make their case. At one point, he seemed to appeal to jurors’ emotions, reminding them that Bankman-Fried had lived a big life and now faces prison.
Bankman-Fried faces potentially decades in prison on a total of seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. The prosecution will have an opportunity for rebuttal on Thursday, and jurors could begin deliberating his fate before the end of the day..
Often raising his voice for dramatic effect, Roos highlighted earlier testimony from Bankman-Fried’s inner circle and Google metadata indicating his awareness of the balance sheet woes to show his involvement in the company’s oversight. Bankman-Fried testified on Monday that he was unaware of the problems, suggesting others were to blame.
And Roos used the time tables to demonstrate separately that Bankman-Fried had lied to Congress about protecting customer assets even as he paid off loans using them, and that he had spent heavily on investments, political contributions and personal items, even after he knew of the massive balance sheet hole.
“This was a pyramid of deceit built by the defendant on a foundation of lies and false promises, all to get money, and eventually it collapsed, leaving countless victims in its wake,” Roos thundered.
Catch up on Unchained’s previous coverage:
- SBF Trial, Day 1: Possible Witnesses Include FTX Insiders, Big Names in Crypto, and SBF’s Family
- SBF Trial, Day 2: DOJ Says Sam Bankman-Fried ‘Lied’ While Defense Claims His Actions Were ‘Reasonable’
- SBF Trial, Day 3: Why a True Believer in FTX Flipped Once He Learned One Fact
- SBF Trial, Day 4: SBF’s Lawyers Annoy Judge Kaplan, While Wang Reveals Alameda’s Special Privileges
- SBF Trial, Day 5: SBF’s Defense Finally Found Its Legs, But Can It Counter Caroline Ellison?
- SBF Trial, Day 6: Caroline Ellison Recalls ‘The Worst Week of My Life’
- SBF Trial, Day 7: In SBF Trial, Did the Defense Lose Its Opportunity With the Star Witness?
- SBF Trial, Day 8: Former BlockFi CEO Adds Credibility to Fraud Charges
- SBF Trial, Day 9: Nishad Singh Describes Former FTX CEO as a Bully and Big Spender
- SBF Trial, Day 10: Defense Struggles to Discredit Nishad Singh’s Testimony
- SBF Trial, Day 11: How Alameda Got FTX Into a $9 Billion Hole
- SBF Trial, Day 12: Former FTX General Counsel Speaks Out Against SBF
- SBF Trial, Day 13: Before Judge, Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried Gives Few Straight Answers
- SBF Trial, Day 14: Sam Bankman-Fried Casts Blame on Others for Key Decisions at FTX
- SBF Trial, Day 15: Prosecutors Hammer Bankman-Fried’s Contradictions With Reams of Evidence
- Did Sam Bankman-Fried Have Intent to Defraud FTX Investors?
- Why These Lawyers Say It’s Over for SBF-But His Only Hail Mary Is to Testify
- Here’s How Sam Bankman-Fried’s High-Stakes Trial Could Play Out
- SBF Trial: How Sam Bankman-Fried’s Lawyers Might Try and Win His Case
- The High-Stakes Trial of Sam Bankman-Fried Begins: What to Expect