Closing time for Sam Bankman-Fried

Let’s be honest: the facts are bad for Sam Bankman-Fried. The prosecution, in the closing statement delivered by Nicolas Roos (pronounced “Rose,” although he won’t correct you if you’re wrong, as Judge Lewis Kaplan did throughout most of the trial) today , has gone through numerous contemporary writings. evidence suggesting that Bankman-Fried was very, very guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy charges at FTX. Roos presented a confident and restrained argument, relying heavily on this evidence to assert that Bankman-Fried had used FTX customer deposits as his own private piggy bank, funneling them through his trading company, Alameda Research.

He also explained why Bankman-Fried did what he did: “The defendant was greedy. »

Honestly, this final statement could have ended after the first hour. Evidence that Bankman-Fried was involved – from his Google Meet with the other alleged co-conspiratorsto the metadata linking it to various incriminating spreadsheets, to the funds allocated to the entities he controlled – would have been sufficient. But we still had a few more hours, as if Roos had rented a backhoe for his pile of evidence and was going to make the most of it he could.

As Roos spoke, the jury was very focused on him. No one seemed to be napping. I didn’t see anyone glance at the clock; many jurors took notes. Although Roos was interrupted by an audiovisual mishap when the screens used to show jurors the evidence were briefly shown in the middle row, the closing argument went smoothly. Roos spoke directly to the jury, occasionally glancing at his own notes.

Cohen said the prosecution was trying to make Bankman-Fried a bad guy

Watching Roos, I understood why the defense had been jump so much in time. The chronological order was bad for Bankman-Fried: it showed quite clearly that he learn things and lie about them. The “Assets are fine” tweet, sent on Nov. 11, came four hours after a conversation with Signal in which Bankman-Fried acknowledged an $8 billion difference between what he owed customers and what he owed. that FTX could pay.

So I was friendly with Mark Cohen, the defense attorney, who didn’t seem to have much to work with. But did his final statement succeed in making things worse? For starters, he appeared to be reading directly from a document he had created, rather than looking at the jury. He spoke softly, almost in a monotone, as if he hoped to put the jurors to sleep.

As expected, Cohen emphasized that mistakes are not illegal. And he sought to present Alameda and FTX as legitimate and innovative companies. It was quite difficult to understand exactly what they were innovating and how, but oh well. It is certainly true that at its peak, FTX’s valuation was very high.

Cohen said the prosecution was trying to make Bankman-Fried a bad guy. Then he showed the jury a number of photos that made Bankman-Fried look bad: hanging out with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, lounging on a private jet, and at the Super Bowl with Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. I don’t know Why Cohen chose to remind us of these photos, but he did. Yes, the prosecution painted an uncharitable picture of Bankman-Fried, but there is no need to do so. to strenghten he.

Cohen introduced topics that I think were intended to confuse the jury, but just seemed to bore them.

We learned that Bankman-Fried worked very hard, 12 hours a day, which seemed low: Bankman-Fried previously said he worked up to 22 hours a day.. But I couldn’t tell you exactly what he was doing all this time, because there was little valuable testimony about it. Likewise, I heard a lot about a data protection policy that defense could not produce.

According to Cohen, the government’s cross-examination was unfair to Bankman-Fried: if he answered at length, Roos considered his answers too rambling, and if he answered briefly, Roos said he sounded evasive. Look, I’ve been there – and I know the words salad and escapes when I hear them. It’s a bit of my business! Bankman-Fried’s answers to questions he didn’t like, even when asked by the true judge, were not good. Saying he was “far from polite” and “being himself; He Was Sam” doesn’t really do the job. He especially doesn’t get the job done when the Bankman-Fried we saw in direct review was warmer, funnier, and very different than the one we saw in crossover. This Bankman-Fried looked an awful lot like the one we knew from our media appearances before November 2022.

Cohen introduced topics that, in my opinion, were intended to confuse the jury, but which simply seemed to bore them. During a long digression about Alameda’s net asset value, for example, I saw several jurors glance at the clock in the back of the courtroom. The same goes for the discussion about FTX’s risk drivers.

Cohen even managed to » says Caroline Ellison, CEO of Alameda more reliableand no less, by defending the tweets she sent during the November period when FTX was failing. This is an unforced error. Undermining Ellison’s testimony – alongside that of Gary Wang, Adam Yedidia T Nishad Singh – was one of the few ploys I could come up with in Bankman-Fried’s defense. If Cohen says she is reliable here, why should we doubt her elsewhere?

Even the most talented defense attorney would have difficulty solving this case.

We have yet to hear the prosecution’s rebuttal to Cohen’s arguments, such as they were, before the case goes to the jury. But I think even the most talented defense attorney would struggle to bring this case to fruition. The documentary evidence supporting the charge is simply too overwhelming, and there is very little evidence to support Bankman-Fried’s account of events, which contradicts the three cooperating witnesses – and Yedidia, who does not was charged with nothing. Additionally, the last person the jury heard from was Bankman-Fried, and we have established at length that he likes to lie.

The main thing that the final findings made clear was how lopsided the case was. Bankman-Fried’s defense seems to be that he is a nice guy who would never purposely hurt anyone. An introvert! Who doesn’t even take recreational drugs! When Cohen asked the jury to keep him in mind during their deliberations, Bankman-Fried crumpled the water bottle in his hand, making a noise. Glancing over, I saw that he was looking directly at the jury, with an expression on his face that suggested he was going to cry.

Bankman-Fried is right to be afraid. He apologized. The prosecution brought receipts.

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