The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, a onetime crypto billionaire accused of orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud, kicked off Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, reports my colleague Allison Morrow, who is covering the trial in person.
Jury selection took up most of the first day, with opening arguments to follow on Wednesday.
The defendant appeared in court in a suit and tie, his normally unkempt hair having recently been cut.
Judge Lewis Kaplan addressed the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, before potential jurors arrived, telling him that the decision to testify is “solely for you,” not his attorneys.
“They can’t make that decision for you. It’s your call… You need to understand that,” Kaplan said.
Over the next several weeks, lawyers will argue two dueling narratives about how FTX, Bankman-Fried’s now-bankrupt crypto platform, came unglued and left thousands of customers in limbo, with their deposits frozen.
SFB has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fraud and conspiracy in connection with the collapse of FTX — a seismic event from which the entire crypto industry is still reeling.
SBF has maintained his innocence since his arrest last December and has sought to shift blame toward other players in his business empire, including FTX’s lawyers as well as his former business partner and on-and-off ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison.
Prosecutors have cast SBF as a Bernie Madoff-like mastermind who stole from FTX’s customers and lied to investors in a yearslong scheme to enrich himself and his associates with luxury real estate splurges and more than $100 million in US political donations.Leave a comment