FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried testifies at his fraud trial

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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried took to the stand to testify at his fraud trial in a Manhattan federal court on Friday. The former cryptocurrency executive is accused of stealing billions of dollars from customers and investors over several years. On Friday, Bankman-Fried gave testimony that fits with the defence argument that he acted in good faith while running FTX, which collapsed in November 2022 after a wave of withdrawals. When defense attorney Mark Cohen asked what he wanted to accomplish in creating FTX, Bankman-Fried answered: “We thought we would be able to build the best [exchange] on the market.” “Did it turn out that way?” Cohen asked. “No,” Bankman-Fried said. “Basically, the opposite.” “Did you defraud anyone?” asked Cohen. “No, I did not,” said Bankman-Fried. “Did you take customer funds?” Cohen followed up. “No,” said Bankman-Fried. Bankman-Fried, 31, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he looted his customers’ and investors’ accounts to live lavishly and bolster his reputation through donations to charity and political candidates. If convicted, he could face decades in prison. Prosecutors have said Bankman-Fried used the misappropriated funds to prop up Alameda Research, his crypto-focused hedge fund, to make speculative venture investments and donate more than $100 million to US political campaigns. Prosecutors have argued that Bankman-Fried encouraged employees to use encrypted messaging platforms to auto-delete their communications and hide their tracks. They have said the loans from Alameda, which in turn borrowed from FTX, were an important way that customer funds were stolen. Bankman-Fried’s testimony could last for several hours before prosecutors get a chance to cross-examine him.

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