SBF pleads his case

After securing enough Adderall to finally stand trial, ex-FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was ready to sit before the judge in a last-ditch effort to save himself from the slammer. 

What happened: SBF took to the stand yesterday to testify in his own defence after the prosecution rested its case. In a surprise twist, the jury was not present for it — the judge dismissed them so that he could determine for himself if SBF’s testimony was admissible. 

  • In case you forgot, SBF faces seven fraud and conspiracy charges relating to the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX and its sister trading firm, Alameda Research. 

  • SBF is alleged to have, among other things, illegally misappropriated customer funds from FTX and siphoned them into Alameda. He faces a sentence of over 100 years.  

So… what did he say? 

SBF’s defence strategy was simple: Deflect blame and plead ignorance. In his testimony, he claimed that FTX’s lawyers were heavily involved in key decisions and approved most actions he took. So, basically saying: “I’m a trustworthy guy — it’s those dang lawyers’ fault!” 

  • He also claimed not to know the full extent of how much Alameda was taking from FTX funds, which directly clashed with other witness testimonies

  • The prosecution grilled him about these claims (and the infamous “FTX is fine” tweet), which he, in large part, deflected by saying he couldn’t remember details. 

Why it matters: SBF’s odds of beating the case weren’t looking good after powerful testimonies from his former colleagues. If the judge allows the jury to hear SBF’s claims and he can convince them that he was led astray by lawyers, the case could turn on its axis. 

What’s next: The judge said he would rule this morning on whether SBF’s testimony would be admitted. If so, he will be up on the stand again later today, repeating everything he said.  

Big picture: After an extended rough patch, crypto is back. Bitcoin is up over 100% on the year and, earlier this week, reached highs that had not been seen in well over a year. The verdict of the trial could have a knock-on effect on an industry looking to move forward.—QH