Twelve New Yorkers will start deliberating FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s fate on Thursday, and a verdict could come later in the day – the first anniversary, coincidentally, of the CoinDesk scoop that spurred former crypto mogul’s downfall.
Promising customers that their “assets are safe” and then taking that money and spending it on yourself and your companies, “is not a ‘reasonable businesses decision,'” Assistant US Attorney Danielle Sassoon said of Bankman-Fried’s behavior during the government’s final appeal to jurors on Thursday – invoking a phrase used by Bankman-Fried’s defense attorney in his closing argument a day earlier. “That is fraud.”
The jurors will soon be dispatched to do their duty – reviewing the seven fraud and conspiracy charges Bankman-Fried faces – after Judge Lewis Kaplan finishes reading instructions to them. The government’s core argument is that Bankman-Fired misused billions of dollars worth of funds belonging to users of his FTX crypto exchange, siphoning them to businesses, political candidates and real estate ventures via Alameda Research, his crypto trading shop.
Read all of CoinDesk’s SBF trial coverage here .
Bankman-Fried broke a “sacred, unbreakable rule” when dealing with FTX customer money, Sassoon told the jury as she wrapped up the US Department of Justice’s case against the disgraced crypto founder: “Your money is your own,” she said. “It’s not for others to use.”
Sassoon’s rebuttal was the last time the jury in Bankman-Fried’s trial will hear from lawyers before they begin their deliberations.
She used her final remarks to jurors to poke holes in the closing statement of defense attorney Mark Cohen, who appealed to the jury on Wednesday to consider whether a real fraudster would agree to an interview on “Good Morning America” just days after he was defendant. of committing crimes.
Bankman-Fried’s post-collapse media blitz “was part of an effort to present himself as reliable,” Sassoon said.
As for why the FTX founder continued to pay back lenders in his crypto empire’s final days – rather than hoard customer funds for himself – the prosecutor said that Bankman-Fried didn’t plan to “run with the money” and risk being exposed. Even after Nov. 7, the day she said FTX collapsed, “he still thought he could fool the world,” she said.
The defense argument that most incensed Sassoon, according to her, was Cohen’s statement to the jury that the government’s star witnesses – top FTX and Alameda executives Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang and Nishad Singh – were incentivized to lie when testing.
“That’s outrageous,” Sassoon said loudly, calling it a “desperate and unsupported accusation.”
Again and again, she told the jury that Bankman-Fried’s testimony and the defense’s arguments don’t make sense. “You know that it’s a made-up story,” she said. “You should reject it.”
Regarding perhaps the defense’s favorite argument, that FTX didn’t have a risk manager and thus Bankman-Fried didn’t know what he was getting himself into, Sassoon said it proved the opposite of what defense lawyers claimed: “That’s not a defense, “It was a strategy.”
“The defendant knew what he was doing was wrong, and that’s why he didn’t hire a chief risk officer,” she told the jury.
“Don’t fall for his lies,” she concluded her statement. “Find him guilty.”
Nikhilesh also contributed reporting.