The fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried took a dramatic turn on Wednesday as prosecutors presented evidence of his vulgar messages to journalists about regulators. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, as reported by Reuters, permitted the jury to review a message from Bankman-Fried addressed to a Vox reporter on X (formerly Twitter), days after FTX went bankrupt in November 2022.
In the mentioned message, Bankman-Fried expressed his belief that regulators “make everything worse” and referred to his prior support for cryptocurrency regulation as mere public relations. Moreover, the jury was also presented with another message sent by Bankman-Fried to a The Block journalist, in which he insulted U.S lawmakers and Gary Gensler, Chair of the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In this exchange, Bankman-Fried accused them of being “dumb” and handing over the industry to Gensler—a figure perceived as less favorable towards cryptocurrency—with industry control previously held by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Bankman-Fried Faces Fraud and Conspiracy Charges
Bankman-Fried stands accused of looting billions of dollars from FTX customers in order to fuel his personal and political agendas. Allegedly, he diverted funds towards a range of ventures, contributed substantial sums to U.S. political campaigns, and bolstered his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Prosecutors assert that these political donations were intended to influence legislation favoring the cryptocurrency industry. Despite facing two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy, the former billionaire maintains his plea of not guilty. He could face decades in prison if convicted.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team attempted to prevent the jury from accessing his conversations with journalists, contending that those exchanges held no relevance to the alleged crimes and that they would prejudice the jury against him. Additionally, they argue that Bankman-Fried considered these discussions as off-the-record.
On the contrary, prosecutor Danielle Sassoon countered by highlighting how these messages provided significant evidence regarding Bankman-Fried’s true mindset and approach toward regulators. She asserted that they contradicted his public image as a proponent of cryptocurrency oversight.
“It doesn’t reflect his honest intent at the time when he was engaging with regulators,” she said.
Trial Expected to End Soon
The trial, which began on Oct. 3, is expected to conclude in early November. Prosecutors have said they could rest their case as soon as Oct. 26. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have said he is considering testifying in his own defense.
The trial has attracted widespread attention from the cryptocurrency community, as FTX was one of the largest and most popular exchanges in the world before its collapse. The case also raises questions about the regulation and oversight of the rapidly growing and volatile industry.
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