SBF Trial Closing Arguments: Sam Bankman-Fried’s only crime was taking too much risk, says lawyer


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  • SBF trial has reached the closing arguments stage with all the evidence subjected to cross-examination.
  • Prosecutor Roos articulates that the case is not about complicated issues of crypto but about lying, stealing and greed.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, says the defendant’s only crime was taking too much risk.

The Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) trial has reached the closing arguments stage after all the evidence from both sides of the case has been subjected to testing in cross-examination. The US District Judge overseeing the case, Lewis Kaplan, had mentioned that the case should conclude by Thursday, with the possibility of extending it to Friday.

A day after revelations of FTX exchange founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried giving special platform privileges to Bahamian bigwigs, the defense and prosecution teams have been allowed to give their closing arguments on the evidence,  facts, and the applicable law. This is the final chance both parties have to sway the juror in their favor.

SBF, the defendant, is charged with seven counts, in four categories: fraud on FTX customers, fraud on FTX's investors; fraud on Alameda's lenders, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Also Read: SBF Trial Latest Dispatch: Sam Bankman-Fried gave special FTX perks to Bahamian officials

Prosecution closing argument

On the prosecution’s side, Assistant US Attorney Nicholas Roos articulates that the case is not about complicated issues of crypto but about lying, stealing and greed. Hammering away, at length, Roos told the jury to convict.

Roos argued that SBF was lying to the public, and he repeated the same lies on the witness stand, echoing the defendant telling Congress and the public that they can view the assets they own held in custody by FTX. According to the AUSA, this was not true because behind the scenes the money was not there.

These public lies show his [SBF’s] criminal intent. Only one person had the motive. Who had the control of FTX, to give Alameda secret access? And access at Alameda, to spend that money? Only one person: the defendant.

The prosecution also underpinned the argument that former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison did not have the access at FTX to do the above, and neither did Gary Wang (former FTX CTO/co-founder) and Nishad Singh (FTX director of engineering). Roos held that these executives, despite their seniority, could not have acted alone without the defendant. This means that Bankman-Fried lied when he said he did not know about the financial troubles until it was too late.

Ross concluded: “The core dispute here is whether the defendant knew that taking the money was wrong. He knew. He did it anyway. He thought he was smarter and could walk his way out of it. Today, with you, that ends.”

Defense closing argument

SBF’s lawyer Mark Cohen, leading the defense team’s closing argument, explained to the jury that his client is not a monster and does not even play poker. As if to acknowledge the competence and good intention of SBF, the lawyer indicated, “Sam worked at Jane Street, a highly regarded trading firm. He wanted to create a Jane Street for crypto. From Jane Street he learned you could fund it with third-party loans. Then they created the futures exchange, FTX.”

In SBF’s defense, Cohen also acknowledged SBF’s success at putting together a successful crypto exchange, two companies [FTX and Alameda] worth billions, so much so that even BlockFi CEO Zac Prince acknowledged that “FTX was one of the few exchanges that mattered, FTT was not fake. It was worth $30 to $40 a token. It was not fraudulent.”

Cohen concluded that SBF’s only crime was taking too much risk, calling the jury’s attention to the fact that, “[FTX and Alameda Research] were valid and innovative businesses.”

 

 

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