SBF claims ‘ I don’t recall’ 100 times in court — then admits his hedge fund had special access to investor money

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Sam Bankman-Fried claimed in court more than 100 times Monday he could not recall aspects of his alleged $10 billion theft from FTX users — but did admit his hedge fund was able to “borrow” a fortune from his crypto exchange. The slippery 31-year-old fallen cryptocurrency king said over and over on the witness stand at his Manhattan federal court trial that he could not remember or was “not sure” about what he said of his business dealings in public — ​including his constant pledges to keep FTX users’ funds “safe.” He also repeatedly denied remembering what he said in private, where he called some members of the crypto community “dumb motherf–kers” and confessed to a reporter that his public push for government oversight was “just PR.” Prosecutor Danielle Sassoon then presented jurors with a mountain of tweets, emails and podcast clips revealing that the MIT grad did in fact say dozens of things he claimed not to have recalled. After much pressing, Bankman-Fried eventually confirmed one aspect of prosecutors’ sprawling fraud and conspiracy case — that his hedge fund Alameda, in an unheard-of arrangement, could pull out billions of dollars it did not own from FTX using a near-unlimited line of credit. “That might be right,” said the ex-crypto golden boy, wearing a gray suit and purple tie and occasionally swigging from a plastic bottle of water. “You don’t deny it?” Sassoon asked. “I don’t deny it, no,” Bankman-Fried responded. But the disgraced former magnate appeared to backtrack on that statement hours later. “Was Alameda allowed to exceed normal borrowing limits on the platform?” Sassoon asked after the trial resumed after a lunch break. “I’m not sure,” Bankman-Fried responded. The defendant — who faces what would essentially be a life sentence if convicted — appeared agitated at several points during the hearing, responding to some of the rare questions he answered directly with a curt, “Yep.” He also tried to ask Sassoon to “rephrase” certain questions — drawing a rebuke from a federal judge. “Could you just answer the question instead of trying to ask the questioner what she is referring to?” an exasperated Judge Lewis Kaplan told the accused fraudster. When asked whether he was “involved” in trading at Alameda — a hedge fund he owned 90 % of — Bankman-Fried replied, “Depends what you mean by trading.” Sassoon then showed jurors several instances of Bankman-Fried ordering lieutenants to make trades on Alameda, including a text exchange in which he ordered Caroline Ellison, the fund’s CEO and his former girlfriend, to make a trade. “Sounds good,” Ellison replied. “LOL,” Bankman-Fried responded. After Bankman-Fried repeatedly claimed to not “recall” public pledges to keep user funds safe —​ including in one bizarre rapid-fire exchange in which he said, “No, but I may have” three times in a row — Sassoon showed jurors screenshots of tweets, ads and congressional testimony that revealed he made such claims widely. The defendant wouldn’t even give a straight answer when asked whether he considered himself a “smart guy” — responding, “in many ways, not in others” — and to whether he “called the shots” as FTX’s chief operating officer. “Some of them,” the California native replied. At one point, Sassoon suggested that Bankman-Fried has a talent for “telling a good story,” pointing out how he won over investors and customers to his platform. “Would you agree that you know how to tell a good story?” Sassoon asked. “I don’t know,” Bankman-Fried replied, adding, “It depends on what metric you use.” Bankman-Fried is currently being jailed at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. His case is set to continue Tuesday.

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