Closing time for Sam Bankman-Fried


Let’s be trustworthy: The information are dangerous for Sam Bankman-Fried. The prosecution, within the closing assertion delivered by Nicolas Roos (pronounced “Rose”, although he gained’t right you for those who get it mistaken, as Decide Lewis Kaplan did for a lot of the trial) immediately, went by way of a number of contemporaneous written proof that recommended that Bankman-Fried was very, very responsible of wire fraud and conspiracy costs at FTX. Roos gave a assured, restrained argument, relying closely on that proof to argue Bankman-Fried had used FTX buyer deposits as his personal personal piggy financial institution, funneling them by way of his buying and selling agency, Alameda Analysis.

He additionally pointed to why Bankman-Fried had finished it: “The defendant was grasping.” 

That closing assertion actually may have ended after the primary hour. The proof that Bankman-Fried was concerned — from his Google Meet with the opposite alleged co-conspirators, to the metadata linking him to numerous incriminating spreadsheets, to the funds traced to entities he managed — would have been sufficient. However we obtained a number of extra hours anyway, as if Roos had rented a backhoe for his pile of proof and was going to get as a lot use out of it as attainable.

As Roos spoke, the jury was targeted very intently on him. Nobody gave the impression to be napping. I didn’t see anybody look on the clock; many jurors have been taking notes. Although Roos was interrupted by an AV mishap when the screens used to point out the jurors the proof briefly went out within the center row, the closing argument was easy. Roos talked on to the jury, glancing sometimes at his personal notes.

Cohen mentioned the prosecution was attempting to make Bankman-Fried right into a villain

Watching Roos, I got here to grasp why the protection had been leaping round in time a lot. Chronological order was dangerous for Bankman-Fried: it confirmed fairly clearly that he was studying issues and mendacity about them. The “Belongings are positive” tweet, despatched November eleventh, was 4 hours after a Sign chat the place Bankman-Fried acknowledged an $8 billion distinction between what he owed prospects and what FTX may pay.

So I used to be sympathetic to Mark Cohen, the lawyer for the protection, who didn’t appear to be he had a lot to work with. However then his closing assertion managed to make issues worse? To start with, he gave the impression to be studying straight from a doc he’d created, moderately than wanting up on the jury. He spoke softly, nearly in a monotone, as if he hoped to lull the jurors to sleep.

Maybe predictably, Cohen emphasised that errors aren’t unlawful. And he sought to current Alameda and FTX as reputable, revolutionary companies. It was type of onerous to grasp precisely what they have been innovating or how, however by no means thoughts. It’s actually true that at its peak, FTX’s valuation was very excessive.

Cohen mentioned the prosecution was attempting to make Bankman-Fried right into a villain. He then confirmed the jury numerous pictures that made Bankman-Fried look, effectively, dangerous: him hanging out with Invoice Clinton and Tony Blair, lounging on a non-public jet, and on the Tremendous Bowl with Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. I don’t know why Cohen selected to remind us of those pictures, however he did. Sure, the prosecution was portray an uncharitable image of Bankman-Fried however there’s no must reinforce it.

Cohen launched issues that I believe have been meant to confuse the jury, however appeared to merely bore them

We discovered Bankman-Fried was working very onerous, 12 hours a day, which appeared low: Bankman-Fried had beforehand testified he labored as many as 22 hours a day. However I couldn’t let you know what precisely he was doing for all that point, as there was treasured little testimony about it. Equally, I heard loads a few information safety coverage the protection couldn’t produce.

In Cohen’s telling, the federal government’s cross-examination had been unfair to Bankman-Fried — if he answered at size, Roos framed his solutions as too rambling, and if he answered briefly, Roos mentioned he sounded evasive. Look, I used to be there — and I do know phrase salad and evasions once I hear them. It’s sort of my enterprise! Bankman-Fried’s solutions to questions he didn’t like, even when posed by the precise decide, weren’t good. Saying he was “removed from polished,” and “was himself; he was Sam” doesn’t actually get the work finished. It particularly doesn’t get the work finished when the Bankman-Fried we noticed on direct examination was hotter, funnier, and really totally different than the one we noticed on cross. That Bankman-Fried was an terrible lot just like the one we knew from media appearances earlier than November 2022.

Cohen launched issues that I believe have been meant to confuse the jury, however appeared to merely bore them. Throughout a protracted digression about Alameda’s internet asset worth, as an example, I noticed a number of jurors look on the clock behind the courtroom. The identical went for dialogue of FTX’s threat engines. 

Cohen even managed to make Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison sound extra dependable, not much less, by defending the tweets she despatched out within the November interval when FTX was failing. That’s an unforced error. Undercutting Ellison’s testimony — alongside that of Gary Wang, Adam Yedidia, and Nishad Singh — was one of many uncommon gambits I may think about working for Bankman-Fried’s protection. If Cohen is saying she is dependable right here, why ought to we doubt her elsewhere?

Even essentially the most proficient protection lawyer would wrestle with this case

We nonetheless have to listen to the prosecution’s rebuttal to Cohen’s arguments, corresponding to they have been, earlier than the case goes to the jury. However I believe even essentially the most proficient protection lawyer would wrestle with this case. The documentary proof for the prosecution is simply too overwhelming, and there’s little or no proof to again Bankman-Fried’s telling of occasions, which contradicts all three cooperating witnesses — and Yedidia, who hasn’t been charged with something. Plus, the final particular person the jury heard communicate was Bankman-Fried, and we did set up at size that he likes to lie.

The primary factor the closing arguments made clear was how lopsided the case was. Bankman-Fried’s protection seems to be that he’s a pleasant boy who would by no means do something to harm anybody on objective. An introvert! Who doesn’t even do leisure medicine! When Cohen requested the jury to maintain him  in thoughts as they deliberated, Bankman-Fried crumpled the water bottle in his hand, making a noise. Glancing over, I noticed he was wanting straight on the jury, with an expression on his face that recommended he would possibly cry.

Bankman-Fried is true to be frightened. He introduced excuses. The prosecution introduced receipts.


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