The SBF Trial: How Did We Get Here?

3 days ago 27

Sam Bankman-Fried stands accused of committing ligament fraud and conspiracy to perpetrate respective different types of frauds. His once-mighty crypto exchange, FTX, collapsed successful melodramatic manner astir a twelvemonth ago, shedding billions successful value. And successful 2 weeks, he’ll statesman his effort to person a assemblage of his peers that helium didn’t perpetrate immoderate of galore alleged crimes portion moving the company.

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If convicted of adjacent 1 of the charges, Bankman-Fried faces years successful a national prison. If convicted of each of the charges, helium could good walk decades, if not the remainder of his life, down bars.

But determination are immoderate nuances here. The maximum situation sentences are conscionable guidelines. And similar immoderate transgression defendant, Bankman-Fried is guiltless until proven blameworthy (even if the grounds made nationalist truthful acold seems damning). This treatment itself whitethorn beryllium premature fixed his proceedings hasn’t adjacent begun yet.

Samuel Bankman-Fried, 31, was arrested past December, a fewer abbreviated weeks aft his empire filed for bankruptcy and ejected the Stanford and Jane Street alum who helmed it.

Federal prosecutors successful the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed an archetypal indictment bringing 8 charges, including ligament fraud and conspiring to perpetrate securities fraud, commodities fraud and launder money.

They aboriginal filed a acceptable of superseding indictments, which the defence squad – led by famed attorneys Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell – successfully argued can’t beryllium brought astatine this clip owed to planetary extradition pact obligations. A 2nd proceedings is tentatively scheduled for adjacent twelvemonth to code these charges.

Over the estimated six-week trial, prosecutors volition spot members of the FTX interior ellipse – including erstwhile Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, erstwhile FTX Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Gary Wang and erstwhile FTX engineering manager Nishad Singh – connected the basal to attest against their erstwhile colleague, brag and roommate. They'll contiguous accusation from FTX’s systems and equilibrium sheets and stock audio recordings implicit the people of the trial, each portion the defence tries to poke holes successful the case.

In the lead-up, these teams of attorneys volition effort to find 10 oregon 12 jurors – retired of a enactment of hundreds – astir sympathetic to their case.

Once Sam Bankman-Fried’s transgression proceedings begins – putting these months of paperwork docket fights down america – his destiny volition hinge connected his jury’s opinion. Is the erstwhile FTX CEO a crypto criminal, oregon possibly simply a unfortunate of circumstance? They’ll person to determine based connected the facts of the case. But their ranks haven’t been filled rather yet. Right now, the lawyers are debating however to find who tin marque that decision.

The process of assemblage enactment – voir dire, oregon “to talk the truth” – heated up precocious past week aft government lawyers blasted the defence team’s projected questions. A bully fig of them could power imaginable jurors, they argued successful a missive to Judge Lewis Kaplan. Some were excessively prying, others excessively specific, the feds said. A fistful “are a thinly veiled effort to beforehand a defence narrative,” the authorities claimed. Many of the questions they took umbrage with shared a communal theme. They were astir appearances.

Sam Bankman-Fried is (or was?) a maestro of appearances. From the archetypal clip this writer spotted the sneakers and shorts-wearing, wild-haired billionaire connected a yacht successful Miami (circa June 2021) to his last tv interviews preceding his arrest, the crypto wunderkind cultivated perceptions. He shuffled betwixt personas that bolstered this representation of approachable greatness. Sam was the feline you could spot to get it close adjacent though helium couldn’t necktie his dress shoes.

“I deliberation it’s important for radical to deliberation I look crazy,” the authorities quoted Sam arsenic saying. His “crazy” (playing video games during interviews, dressing similar a dorm country schlub, sleeping connected a beanbag seat and, ohio yeah, those disheveled curls) made his greatness (speaking connected Capitol Hill, pioneering monolithic philanthropic endeavors and, ohio yeah, the crypto speech FTX) each the greater.

But the authorities doesn’t privation to fto the defence item immoderate of that earlier the proceedings begins. They’re calling connected Judge Kaplan to cull assemblage questions that probe the righteousness of philanthropic philosophies and run finance. Sam’s ADHD should beryllium near disconnected the table, they say. And don’t adjacent deliberation astir interrogating jurors’ FTX-specific opinions.

Real oregon engineered, Sam’s crippled of perceptions has ended. He’ll statesman the proceedings arsenic a well-dressed suspect conscionable similar immoderate other. The authorities doesn't privation his aged representation to dictate who mightiness yet enactment him successful a khaki jumpsuit.

We’ll beryllium successful the courthouse each and each time of this trial, bringing you quality arsenic it happens and keeping you updated. Want to travel along? Sign up for CoinDesk’s caller regular newsletter, The SBF Trial, bringing you insights from the courthouse and astir the case.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s proceedings begins astatine 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 UTC) connected Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, astatine the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

— Nikhilesh De, Danny Nelson

Edited by Marc Hochstein and Nick Baker.

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