In a rare move, Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed the jury before the FTX founder took the stand to assess what statements will be admissible.
The trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried took an interesting turn yesterday as the former wunderkind took to the stand to testify for the first time.
In an unusual move, Judge Lewis Kaplan sent the jury home in order to hear Bankman-Fried’s testimony and decide what is admissible. “We are in the home stretch”, Kaplan told the jury, affirming the case is likely to conclude soon.
While Bankman-Fried appeared prepared and confident in responding to questions from his own lawyers, he wavered under cross-examination, showing visible signs of uncertainty, CoinDesk reported.
When Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon asked Bankman-Fried to “point out” where in the Payment Agent Agreement between FTX and Alameda it specifies that Alameda could spend customer funds, Bankman-Fried spent two minutes scanning the document, only to point to a passage and declare: “I should preface this with the fact that I am not a lawyer”.
Bankman-Fried also stumbled and paused over other questions, giving lengthy responses that often boiled down to “I don’t know”, or “I don’t recall”. When asked if he remembered a conversation about how $13 billion had gone missing at the company, for instance, he replied “I don’t recall”.
Bankman-Fried tries to shift blame toward FTX lawyers
An October 25 court filing reveals that Bankman-Fried’s lawyers asked Judge Lewis Kaplan for permission to ask Bankman-Fried about the extent to which FTX’s lawyers were involved in decision making.
Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, wrote, “At a minimum, Mr. Bankman-Fried should be permitted testify in his defense regarding the involvement of counsel on these topics to counter any implication from the testimony elicited to date that he failed to act in good faith with respect to these matters.”
A key point brought forward by prosecutors yesterday was FTX’s ‘auto-delete’ policy on internal communication platforms such as Slack and Signal. Bankman-Fried blamed his external general counsel for the policy.
Bankman-Fried is likely to testify before the jury later today. If found guilty of all seven accounts of fraud and conspiracy, he faces a maximum of 110 years behind bars.
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