Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the crypto exchange FTX, is expected to testify in his own defense on Thursday in a federal fraud trial in New York. Bankman-Fried is accused of misusing billions of dollars of customer funds to make risky and unauthorized investments, leading to the bankruptcy of FTX last year.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, confirmed on Wednesday that his client will take the stand and that his testimony will likely take the entire day. Cohen said that Bankman-Fried would explain his actions and motivations and that he did not intend to defraud anyone.
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The government alleges that Bankman-Fried and other FTX executives used customer assets as collateral for leveraged trades, margin loans, and derivatives contracts, without disclosing the risks or obtaining consent. The prosecutors claim that Bankman-Fried lied to investors, regulators, and auditors about the financial condition and operations of FTX.
The trial, which began on October 18, has featured testimony from former FTX employees, customers, and experts. The government has also presented evidence of Bankman-Fried’s communications, transactions, and trading records.
The defense has tried to portray Bankman-Fried as a visionary entrepreneur who was trying to innovate in the crypto space and compete with other exchanges. Bankman-Fried’s decision to testify comes after weeks of speculation and uncertainty. Analysts have been divided on whether he would take the stand, given the potential risks and benefits.
Some have argued that Bankman-Fried could persuade the jury with his charisma and intelligence, while others have warned that he could face tough cross-examination and damage his credibility.
Bankman-Fried faces multiple charges, including fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and securities violations. If convicted, he could face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.
FTX was once one of the largest and most popular crypto exchanges in the world, offering a variety of products and services to traders and investors. The exchange filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2022, after suffering massive losses from its trading activities. FTX has since been taken over by a trustee and is considering multiple proposals for its restructuring or liquidation.