Sam Bankman-Fried will take the stand at his personal trial, his authorized counsel has confirmed. The founding father of stricken crypto trade FTX has endured three weeks of bruising testimony in federal court docket from ex-colleagues, friends, and different witnesses. However Bankman-Fried will now take the chance to relay his personal model of occasions to the jury.
The US authorities has accused Bankman-Fried of masterminding a multibillion-dollar fraud, whereby funds belonging to FTX clients have been swept right into a sibling firm, Alameda Analysis, and both used to again up dangerous crypto bets or spent on debt repayments, private loans, political donations, and luxuries of varied kinds. At trial, he’s dealing with seven prices in reference to the alleged fraud.
In deciding whether or not to testify, the stakes for Bankman-Fried are excessive. “The upside,” says Daniel Richman, a professor at Columbia Legislation College and former federal prosecutor, “is that you just actually get to have a possibility to persuasively give your aspect of the story.” However testifying may even expose Bankman-Fried to variables outdoors his management, together with cross-examination by the prosecution.
The default recommendation to any prison defendant, says Christopher LaVigne, a accomplice at legislation agency Withers, is to not take the stand. In a court docket setting, irrespective of how properly ready the testimony, it’s “just about inconceivable to foretell what’s going to occur, significantly in cross-examination.” Bankman-Fried could also be “caught flat-footed,” says LaVigne, by a bit of proof that undermines his telling of occasions—and if the federal government can reveal he has lied on the stand, it may be used as ammunition within the last phases of the trial. Within the occasion he’s convicted, in the meantime, the choose would have in mind any perjury in sentencing.
To an extent, nevertheless, Bankman-Fried was left with little selection however to defy typical knowledge and take the stand. The burden of the proof laid out by cooperating witnesses, every of whom spoke to their very own guilt, means a Hail Mary strategy is the one possibility the protection has left, says Daniel Silva, a former prosecutor and lawyer at legislation agency Buchalter. “It doesn’t look like he has another playing cards to play. It’s high-risk, and presumably very minimal reward,” says Silva. “It looks as if there’s actually nothing else for him to do at this level than testify and attempt to clarify it away.”
In direct examination, the protection is more likely to ask Bankman-Fried to supply different explanations for the behaviors outlined within the testimony of his former colleagues, and maybe handle questions round his intentions and frame of mind. “He’s going to should current himself as essentially the most misunderstood man in America,” says Richman.
On the morning of October 26, the prosecution will name its last witness, then relaxation its case. The protection will then name 4 witnesses of its personal, considered one of them Bankman-Fried. However till he takes the stand, there’s at all times the opportunity of an about-turn. Regardless of having acknowledged his intention to testify, says Rachel Maimin, accomplice at legislation agency Lowenstein Sandler, Bankman-Fried remains to be inside his rights to withdraw, ought to he get chilly ft. The choice to testify, says Maimin, can “activate a dime.”