Oct 25, 2023 - Economy

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried set to testify in fraud trial

Photo: Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried, the indicted FTX founder and former CEO, will testify in his own defense this week, according to his attorney.

Why it matters: There had been doubt as to whether Bankman-Fried would take the stand and face questioning on his collapsed crypto exchange, particularly given his penchant for running off at the mouth.

  • This decision suggests that his attorneys could be concerned about the state of their case, or that Bankman-Fried believes his own words are his best path toward potential future freedom.
  • Defense attorney Mark Cohen confirmed SBF's plan to testify Wednesday at a hearing with Judge Lewis Kaplan and prosecutors.

Between the lines: It's SBF's choice to take the stand in his trial, which is set to resume Thursday after being on pause since last week.

  • Of note: Though SBF is choosing to testify, he can't choose when it ends. If cross-examination gets intense, he can't leave until the prosecution is finished.

SBF might hope that by becoming a real person for the jury, it might persuade them that he didn't have criminal intent (or at least convince one or two).

  • The main danger for him in taking the stand is that, if the judge feels he misrepresented himself in court, it could lead to tougher sentencing.

Zoom out: If the defense can fill just one juror with doubt, a new trial will be needed.

  • If SBF is convicted, per a former prosecutor on the TechCrunch podcast, it would be months before we know his sentence.
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