In Closing, Prosecutor Gives SBF an Earful

Defense lawyer counters that his client just made mistakes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2023 6:20 PM CDT
For Two Hours, Prosecutor Tells Jury SBF Is a Fraud
This courtroom sketch shows FTX co-founder Sam Bankman Fried, far left, listening as Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos, center, questions co-founder of FTX Gary Wang, far right, last month in New York.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

For more than two hours in his closing argument Wednesday, a federal prosecutor told the jury in various ways that Sam Bankman-Fried is a liar. The cryptocurrency exchange founder "lied about big things and small things," Assistant US Attorney Nicolas Roos said. Bankman-Fried answered that he "couldn't recall" more than 140 times in cross-examination. He built FTX on a "pyramid of deceit" atop a "foundation of lies and false promises." A graphic displayed in court, the New York Times reports, was titled, "The defendant's lies to the public." If convicted of the seven fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering charges he's being tried on, Bankman-Fried, 31, could receive what's essentially a life sentence.

Roos also talked about the impact on customers, per the Wall Street Journal, including their despair when trying to withdraw their money from the collapsing exchange. "Who was responsible?" said Roos, who then turned and pointed to the defense table. "This man, Samuel Bankman-Fried." A defense attorney began his closing argument by saying the defendant was more clueless than evil. "In the real world people misjudge things," Mark Cohen told the jury. "They make mistakes." He repeated his client's earlier point that he never told anyone to break the law, which Cohen said testimony supported.

Cohen complained that prosecutors tried to make his client appear unlikable by talking so much about his sex life, hair, and fashion sense, per the Journal. "We'll agree that there was a time when Sam was probably the worst-dressed CEO in the world," he said, "and had the worst haircut." Cohen added that Bankman-Fried would talk to almost anyone who asked him to. "That made his life messy. But that's not a crime," Cohen said. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan told the jury that it will begin its deliberations in the monthlong New York trial on Thursday and that it might be a long day. (More Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

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