A New York City trial on Monday saw a prosecutor interrogating Sam Bankman-Fried, questioning his credibility by pointing out public statements he made prior to and after his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, declared bankruptcy in late 2020 due to an inability to handle billions of dollars in withdrawals.
U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon questioned Bankman-Fried about situations where he assured clients that their assets were secure and could be retrieved at any moment.
Bankman-Fried responded quickly with a repeated “Yes” to the series of questions.
31-year-old Bankman-Fried has been undergoing a trial for the last month regarding allegations of defrauding his clients and investors out of billions of dollars. He has entered a plea of not guilty for charges that could result in decades of imprisonment.
From 2017 to 2022, the man from California became well-known for establishing the Alameda Research hedge fund and FTX. He built a successful cryptocurrency empire that accumulated billions of dollars in value. At first, he appeared to be revolutionizing the growing field by implementing his declared goal of creating a more regulated and secure space for users.
Sassoon used her questioning to demonstrate that Bankman-Fried’s public statements were untrue. She also alleged that he reassured customers about the safety of their accounts while simultaneously draining them by indulging in extravagant purchases like real estate, celebrity endorsements, investments, and political donations.
During one occasion, she inquired about his use of vulgar language when discussing regulators, despite his efforts to persuade Congress to establish a regulatory structure to enhance the credibility of the cryptocurrency sector.
When she gave a specific example, he responded, “I have said that before.”
When questioned about his focus on regulations, Sassoon confirmed that it was partly for the purpose of improving public image. He responded, “I did mention something along those lines, yes.”
On Monday, prior to the start of cross-examination, Bankman-Fried stated under oath that he was confident his companies could handle the daily removal of billions of dollars in assets, until a few days before they were unable to do so.
In December, Bankman-Fried was taken into custody for fraud allegations. He was initially released on a $250 million bond and allowed to live with his parents in Palo Alto, California. However, he was later imprisoned in August after Judge Lewis A. Kaplan determined that he had attempted to interfere with potential witnesses for his trial.
On Thursday, he started giving testimony. Kaplan informed the jurors that the trial could possibly wrap up by the end of this week.