Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial took place at the Federal Court in New York on October 4th, 2023. Claudia Johnson was the artist present at the trial. Marc-Antoine Julliard, a commodities broker from London, testified as the prosecution’s first witness. Julliard diversified into cryptocurrency trading on FTX in the spring of 2021. He recounted his experience with FTX, including the day he unsuccessfully tried to withdraw $100,000 worth of crypto and cash from the platform. Julliard and many other FTX customers lost their funds when the exchange collapsed. Julliard believed that FTX had strong financials. The trial against Sam Bankman-Fried, who is accused of misusing billions of dollars in client money, is expected to last six weeks. Bankman-Fried faces charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.
The defense argues that clients should take responsibility for their choices in buying and trading crypto. Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, stated that Bankman-Fried did not defraud anyone and that the case was brought by the government in hindsight. Bankman-Fried appeared in court with a new look, taking notes on his laptop and listening to his counsel. Cohen portrayed Bankman-Fried as a startup founder and emphasized the lack of risk management at FTX.
The prosecution, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thane Rehn, stated that everyday investors were the victims of FTX’s scheme, with over $10 billion stolen from thousands of customers. Rehn accused Bankman-Fried of lying to users, investors, and lenders and spending stolen money for personal gain, including campaign contributions. The prosecution’s star witness is Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and ex-CEO of Alameda, who has been cooperating with the U.S. attorney’s office. The government also highlighted alleged cover-up tactics to hide Bankman-Fried’s crimes. Adam Yedidia, a former trader at Alameda and software engineer at FTX, testified as the prosecution’s second witness, revealing his concerns about unwittingly contributing to a crime. The trial will continue with further questioning of Yedidia and the testimony of FTX co-founder Gary Wang.