FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried intends to testify at cryptocurrency fraud trial, says lawyer

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SAM BANKMAN-FRIED, the founder of cryptocurrency trading platform FTX, plans to testify at his fraud trial, his lawyer told a US federal judge today. The news comes a day before the defence is set to counter testimony from former executives who say the cryptocurrency executive stole billions of dollars from his customers and investors over several years. Attorney Mark Cohen told judge Lewis A Kaplan that he planned to call three witnesses “and then our client is also going to be testifying” after prosecutors rest tomorrow. Cohen made the comment during a phone and video conference in Manhattan federal court after the judge told him: “It’s time to tell me what defence case, if any, you’re going to put on.” The judge told him that he did not have to say yet whether Bankman-Fried would testify, but Cohen volunteered that he would. Even so, prosecutors and the judge later discussed the possibility that closing arguments could occur early next week if Bankman-Fried changes his mind and does not take the stand. Bankman-Fried, 31, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he looted the financial accounts of his customers and investors to live lavishly and bolster his personal reputation and the reputation of his companies through large donations to charity and political candidates. Prosecutors have called some of his former top executives to testify against him. They have told the jury that he was involved in every facet of his businesses and was fully aware that billions of dollars he was spending on real estate, investments and contributions were unwittingly funded by customers and investors. Bankman-Fried has been jailed since August, when judge Kaplan ruled that he had tried to influence potential trial witnesses and revoked the 250 million US dollar personal recognisance bond that had permitted him to live with his parents in Palo Alto, California, after his December extradition from the Bahamas.

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