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Will Sam Bankman-Fried give a statement?


Sam Bankman-Fried always said everything he did was a calculation. When he was riding high, the disgraced FTX founder built his aura by suggesting that he used his math skills to weigh every action large and small, and choose the optimal outcome. Now, in the next week or so, he will get to use those skills to decide on the ultimate wager: whether to take the stand in a high-stakes gamble for his freedom.

As you have likely read, Bankman-Fried’s prospects aren’t looking good. The prosecution has made a powerful case that he engaged in blatant fraud by looting customer money to pay for everything from luxury pads to political donations. His onetime girlfriend and best friends hung him out to dry with damning text messages and testimonies that portrayed him as a sneaky and insensitive creep.

All of this makes it more likely that Bankman-Fried will testify in his own defense. While other media outlets, including Fortune, have explored this question, the Wall Street Journal this weekend published a detailed new examination based on the latest events. While attorneys typically advise clients not to take the stand where they can be cross-examined, the Journal reports the calculation has now shifted:

“While taking the stand in one’s own defense is usually considered too perilous a step to leave to chance, the state of the trial, plus Bankman-Fried’s limited options, point toward testifying as his best shot, lawyers said. ‘Under the current state of play, unless Sam does something dramatic, he is almost certainly going to be convicted.’”

Bankman-Fried has also been making ongoing legal demands for more access to Adderall medication in order to focus on his defense—another sign that he is preparing to testify, according to the report.

Taking the stand offers a big potential upside since all Bankman-Fried needs to do is persuade one or two jurors to buy his version of events and obtain a hung jury. The downside, of course, is that his appearance could be a train wreck. As one former prosecutor told the Journal: “In 22 years, I’ve only seen one defendant successfully testify. Usually they walk themselves into a conviction.”

My own two cents is that Bankman-Fried will take the stand. Like Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes—another fraudster who unsuccessfully took the stand in her own defense—Bankman-Fried is someone convinced he’s always the smartest person in the room. We have also seen him blow off legal advice before, most notoriously when he embarked on an ill-advised media blitz right after FTX collapsed and further incriminated himself. It would also be very on-brand for crypto’s most famous con man to attempt one final con in a Hail Mary bid to retain his freedom.

Jeff John Roberts
[email protected]
@jeffjohnroberts

DECENTRALIZED NEWS

VIDEO: Sam Bankman-Fried Will Testify at His Trial
Bloomberg Television

Crypto markets remain bullish as Bitcoin pushes toward $31,000 and altcoins recover. (CoinDesk)

Crypto security startup Blockaid raised $33 million in a round led by Variant and Ribbit Capital to expand its service that shields customers from wallets tied to scammers. (Fortune)

Binance is no longer offering its Visa debit card in Europe in another sign of how banks and credit card firms have grown reluctant to do business with the firm. (Bloomberg)

A collection of texts between Sam Bankman-Fried and his lieutenants has emerged as one of the most damning pieces of evidence for the prosecution. (Fortune)

An FBI investigation has led six people to be charged in New York for running an unlicensed money transmitting operation involving Bitcoin and bundles of cash sent in the mail. (CoinDesk)

MEME O’ THE MOMENT

VIDEO: Sam Bankman-Fried testifies that he didn't commit fraud: CNBC Crypto World
CNBC Television

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