Disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense counsel argued on Wednesday that the erstwhile crypto kingpin and Democrat mega donor is nothing more than a “math nerd who didn’t drink or party” and “didn’t steal from anyone.”
Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial started on Wednesday, and his legal team started a “charm offensive” that attempted to paint the former FTX CEO as some form of shy kid next door and a nerd.
Defense counsel Mark Cohen described Bankman-Fried as “Sam” and said he was simply a “math nerd who didn’t drink or party.”
He charged that “Sam didn’t steal from anyone. There was no theft.”
Cohen continued, “Rather, you will learn that Sam believed, reasonably believed, that loans that FTX made to Alameda were permitted and backed by reasonable security and collateral.”
The prosecution focused on the alleged fraud conducted by Bankman-Fried and those customers who were harmed by the collapse of the digital exchange platform.
Thane Rehn, an assistant U.S. attorney, said, “One year ago it looked like SBF [Bankman-Fried] was on top of the world. He had wealth, power and influence — all of it was built on lies.”
The prosecution said it would produce documents and inter-company detailing how Bankman-Fried committed fraud.
Rehn said that Bankman-Fried was not able to delete “everything” regarding his conduct at the company. The assistant U.S. attorney claimed that Bankman-Fried used Caroline Ellison, the former Alameda Research CEO and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, as a “front” when he was actually calling the shots at Alameda.
Bankman-Fried stands accused of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering on his alleged use of FTX customer funds to cover the losses of his hedge fund, Alameda Research. He also allegedly use those funds to purchase real estate and cover other personal expenses. Bankman-Fried pled not guilty to all counts and faces up to 110 years in prison.
The former disgraced CEO of the digital currency platform has denied any “improper use of customer funds.”
Bankman-Fried quickly rose to prominence and became a media darling. Fortune Magazine put him on the cover of and asked readers if he was the next “Warren Buffett.”
Bankman-Fried also reportedly tried to become the next George Soros:
Lewis seems so attached to the protagonist of his narrative that he takes an awful lot in stride. He tells us that Bankman-Fried is so worried about the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump that he was planning to give the Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “$15-$30 million” to “defeat the Trumpier candidates in the U.S. Senate races.” Thirty million? To Mitch McConnell? To save democracy? (Bankman-Fried also said that he was told that Trump might be willing to sit out the next election for $5 billion.)
Biographer Michael Lewis claims that Bankman-Fried lost half a million dollars every day after his hedge fund launched.