SBF’s trial has entered the endgame
Sam Bankman-Fried’s testimony concluded on Tuesday, and the defense rested its case
Artwork by Crystal Le
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is nearing its end.
The former executive, charged with seven counts of fraud, launched what was perhaps a final attempt at swaying the jury that included a lot of yup’s, yep’s and awkward answer-dodging.
The trial lasted throughout October, although it looks as if it will bleed a little into November. It’s still unclear how the jury will find Bankman-Fried, though the rest of his inner circle have all pleaded guilty.
That inner circle includes ex-FTX Digital Markets CEO Ryan Salame, co-founder Gary Wang, former head of engineering Nishad Singh and former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison.
Wang, Ellison and Singh testified against Bankman-Fried — none of whom, to be sure, had nice things to say about their former friend, boss, and roommate (and in Ellison’s case, ex-lover) as they each took the stand.
Ellison took roughly 30 seconds to even recognize her former boyfriend and then proceeded to spill a lot of tea about Thai sex workers and alleged Chinese bribes. Singh said he was once “intimidated” by Bankman-Fried, though the belief “eroded” over time. Meanwhile, Wang directly contradicted claims SBF made when his empire was crumbling.
The failure of FTX marked a pivotal moment for crypto. Yet there’s been one topic at the center of the collapse in the nearly 12 months since bankruptcy proceedings began and top lieutenants admitted guilt: What will happen to Bankman-Fried?
A final verdict is expected in the next week or so, a development that may roughly coincide with the one-year anniversary of FTX’s downfall.
As we approach a conclusion, the anticipation remains but the hangover looms. The media — both crypto and non-crypto — flocked to the courthouse in the wee hours of the morning to lock down seats and report on what happened during the trial.
But the focus wasn’t just on the trial itself. It was also on the influencers who attended the “trial of the century,” according to one such influencer quoted by the New York Times. The US Marshals in charge of ensuring rules both inside the courtroom and the adjacent overflow rooms grumbled at one article from the New Yorker that exposed rule-breaking by attendees.
But all of that’s about to be behind us.
Of course, there’s the possibility of more days in court once a verdict is read. If, for example, a jury were to find Bankman-Fried guilty, then a sentencing hearing would follow. But, ultimately, the end of the trial marks the closing of a long-awaited chapter, no matter the outcome.
The end of the book, however, won’t happen until FTX exits bankruptcy. The Delaware case is ongoing as John J. Ray, FTX’s new CEO, works through the “most challenging financial disaster I have seen,” in an effort to disburse money back to FTX’s creditors.
But, with reports that FTX is considering a reboot, maybe this is just a phoenix moment for FTX. Its former executives, however, have all burnt out.
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