Former FTX Billionaire Addresses Jurors, Discusses Legal Matters in Ongoing Trial.
In a pivotal moment during his trial, former FTX billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried openly admitted to making “mistakes” at his now-defunct crypto giant, FTX, and acknowledged that “a lot of people got hurt.” This candid confession occurred as Bankman-Fried testified before jurors in a trial where he faced fraud and conspiracy charges.
Bankman-Fried’s courtroom appearance on Friday followed his debut on the witness stand the previous day, during which jurors were not present for his remarks.
The judge presiding over the trial, Judge Lewis Kaplan, ruled on Friday that Bankman-Fried’s defence could include testimony related to the role of lawyers in deleting Signal chats at FTX. However, the defence was prohibited from presenting broader testimony concerning FTX’s legal team.
“I held the hearing yesterday so that I could hear from Mr. Bankman-Fried’s mouth what he had to say,” Judge Kaplan explained on Friday, underscoring the importance of the witness’s statements.
This line of questioning had been foreshadowed on Thursday when the judge dismissed jurors for the day. Bankman-Fried, under questioning from his defence team, expressed his desire to place blame on former FTX General Counsel Dan Friedberg and the external law firm Fenwick & West.
Bankman-Fried’s defence argued that the involvement of his attorneys extended to various aspects of FTX’s operations, from terms of service to the establishment of North Dimension, a subsidiary of Alameda Research (Bankman-Fried’s trading firm). North Dimension was designed to secure bank accounts and process payments.
Judge Kaplan, however, did not approve an “advice-of-counsel defence” across all the topics sought by Bankman-Fried’s legal team. Instead, he limited the scope to discussions regarding FTX’s document retention policy.
The document retention policy is significant because Bankman-Fried claimed that it allowed FTX and its employees to delete numerous internal chats on messaging platforms like Signal automatically. Nevertheless, the topic remains contentious.
With the judge’s decision finalized, Bankman-Fried testified before the jurors tasked with determining his fate in the face of fraud and conspiracy allegations. The trial continues, and the outcome remains uncertain.