Sam Bankman-Fried will testify in his own defense, lawyers say

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(NEW YORK) — Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to testify as soon as Thursday in his own defense, his lawyers signaled during a telephone hearing Wednesday while the trial is paused.

The fraud trial in Manhattan federal court resumes Thursday, when the government is expected to rest its case.

Defense attorneys plan to put on a limited case, including testimony from Bankman-Fried. The former crypto billionaire faces seven counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering centered on his alleged use of customer deposits on the crypto trading platform FTX to cover losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research, and to buy lavish real estate, among other personal expenses.

He has pleaded not guilty to all counts. If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 110 years in prison.

Earlier this month, prosecutors explored Bankman-Fried’s unusual living arrangements and the luxurious lifestyle he’d been living in the Bahamas that was allegedly paid for, illegally, with customer and investor money. Prosecutors have alleged Bankman-Fried used other customer funds for real estate, speculative investments and political donations.

A witness, Adam Yedidia, who worked as a developer at FTX, testified that Alameda paid for a $35 million apartment in the Bahamas, where he said Bankman-Fried lived with nine other employees.

Yedidia said he had been tasked with fixing a bug in FTX’s system in June 2022 when he discovered Alameda allegedly owed FTX customers $8 billion. He called it concerning.

“Because if they spend the money that belongs to the FTX customers, then it’s not there to give the FTX customers should they withdraw,” Yedidia said during his testimony.

Five months later, when Yedidia said he heard Alameda had used customer money to repay loans, he said he resigned.

Bankman-Fried stepped down from his role at FTX in November 2022 amid a rapid collapse that ended with the company declaring bankruptcy. Prosecutors charged Bankman-Fried the following month with an array of alleged crimes focused on a scheme to defraud investors.

In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in November 2022, Bankman-Fried denied knowing “there was any improper use of customer funds.”

“I really deeply wish that I had taken like a lot more responsibility for understanding what the details were of what was going on there,” Bankman-Fried said at the time. “A lot of people got hurt, and that’s on me.”

 

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