Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has finally testified in court as his legal team begins to construct a defense against charges of two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy. It would seem the 31-year-old former billionaire is now taking a different tactic in his latest attempt to wiggle out of the fraud charges.
While taking the stand, SBF claimed his legal team gave the green light for all of his shady actions leading up to the epic collapse of the exchange.
Sam Bankman-Fried Takes The Witness Stand
The prosecution closed its case last week after 12 trial days after calling on several key witnesses, including Alameda Reserach’s ex-CEO Caroline Ellison, FTX’s co-founder Gary Wang, and former Director of Engineering Nishad Singh. Although these witnesses have also implicated Bankman-Fried, the defense continues to work on a not-guilty stand.
SBF’s defense team presented him as the third witness after Krystal Rolle, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer in the Bahamas, and database expert Joseph Pimbley. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan allowed SB to take to the stand at his fraud trial On October 26, outside the jury’s presence.
In his testimony, SBF claimed his lawyers at the time, including Dan Friedberg, approved all of his actions, making him believe he was acting in good faith and everything was fine.
The FTX founder said lawyers were involved in setting this system for diverting customer funds into an Alameda bank account. However, prosecutors have said SBF should not allowed to suggest that the involvement of lawyers in decision-making is an indication of innocence of any wrongdoing.
SBF counters that he was acting without criminal intent on the advice of his attorneys. But when the prosecution’s attorney Danielle Sassoon cross-examined him, he found it difficult to cite specific instances in which his attorneys gave their approval.
“The witness has what I’ll simply call an interesting way of responding to questions,” Judge Kaplan said.
The defense also made the point that testimonies from former FTX top employees were tailored to implicate Bankman-Fried in the hopes of them receiving lenient sentences.
What’s Next For The FTX Founder’s Defense?
Prosecutors say Sam Bankman-Fried was key in diverting customer funds to Alameda Research, while also donating more than $100 million to political campaigns in the US. If convicted, the former FTX CEO could spend up to 20 years in prison.
SBF’s defense seems bleak at the moment, and Judge Kaplan has already disqualified seven of its witnesses. Bankman-Fried is expected to testify to the jury on Friday, where Kaplan is to decide if he could speak to the jurors about lawyers approving his actions.
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