Get up to speed on the SBF trial

As the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman Fried crosses the halfway point, we thought we’d give you an update on how it’s going. Spoiler alert: Not great, for SBF.

Driving the news: It looks increasingly unlikely that SBF will beat the seven federal criminal charges levied against him, multiple former federal prosecutors told The Washington Post

  • Following the collapse of FTX and sister trading firm Alameda Research, SBF faces fraud and money laundering charges that could net him 100 years in the big house.

Catch-up: Three weeks into the trial, the defence has been unable to make SBF look like an upright entrepreneur who got in over his head. Instead, the prosecution has successfully painted him as a manipulative fraudster thanks to a paper trail and star witnesses, like…  

  • Gary Wang: The FTX co-founder and ex-chief technology officer admitted to carrying out illegal activities at FTX and testified that his boss had instructed him to write code that gave Alameda carte blanche to borrow funds from FTX at any given time.

  • Caroline Ellison: The ex-Alameda CEO/SBF’s ex-lover claimed he approved fake balance sheets to mislead investors. She was also featured in damning audio clips from last year where she told employees SBF had approved customer fund transfers. 

Yes, but: The defence did score a win off of the third star witness, ex-engineering head Nishad Singh. Per The Verge, Nishad’s testimony rang “hollow” after the defence pointed out he took a loan from FTX to buy a house after being told about the misuse of customer funds. 

What’s next: SBF could still take the stand himself before the trial ends (if he gets more ADHD meds, as requested) — a massive risk with huge potential upside if he comes off well.

Bottom line: Whatever the outcome, the trial could be a bellwether for future financial crime cases. And a conviction would let prosecutors make an example out of SBF.—QH