Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented contrasting narratives of Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged involvement in fraud and money-laundering offenses Wednesday (Nov. 1).
They did so while presenting their closing arguments in the trial in which Bankman-Fried, the founder of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, faces seven criminal counts related to the collapse of that and other affiliated businesses, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Wednesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos portrayed Bankman-Fried as a villain, accusing him of stealing billions of dollars and deceiving investors, according to the report. Roos supported his claims with testimony from three individuals within Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, who claimed to have committed crimes under his direction. Additionally, he highlighted a snippet of computer code that allegedly showed FTX’s sister hedge fund, Alameda Research, had secret privileges on the exchange.
However, Bankman-Fried’s defense attorney, Mark Cohen, countered these allegations, arguing that the prosecution was misrepresenting his client, the report said. Cohen emphasized that mistakes can occur in the real world and that misjudgments do not necessarily imply criminal intent. He also pointed out that none of the witnesses testified that Bankman-Fried instructed them to break the law.
During the trial, Bankman-Fried took the stand, admitting to making mistakes but maintaining that he never intended to defraud anyone, per the report. However, he faced challenges during cross-examination, particularly regarding his public statements after FTX’s collapse.
The core dispute in the trial revolves around whether Bankman-Fried knowingly engaged in wrongful activities, according to the report. Roos argued that Bankman-Fried’s deception, lies and greed were evident, while Cohen maintained that his client acted in good faith and did not intend to deceive anyone.
The closing arguments were made after a trial that lasted a month. Jurors will begin deliberations Thursday (Nov. 2).
The events came a day after Bankman-Fried took the witness stand for the fourth time, and the third juried time, saying repeatedly “I’m not sure” and “I don’t recall.” The accused fraudster’s personal testimony in his own defense was one of the most anticipated moments of the trial, but the Tuesday (Oct. 31) hearing ended up undercutting his core strategy and narrative: that he was distracted and made honest, good-faith mistakes, PYMNTS reported Tuesday.