SBF visibly annoyed during trial, uses mocking voice to answer prosecutors
Sam Bankman-Fried's personality was drawn out on the witness stand.
Zoom in: In his direct testimony, fielding friendly questions from his own attorney, he was focused and confident. The cross-examination Monday drew out a different SBF, appearing to take aim at his duplicitous side.
- The former FTX chief was evasive and visibly annoyed while answering questions from prosecutor Danielle Sassoon.
Details: When he said he didn't remember or distanced himself from certain documents or communications, Sassoon produced government exhibits proving otherwise. And she made him read those documents aloud.
- SBF, a man so used to controlling his own narrative, seemed to quickly grow frustrated that he was being checked.
Between the lines: Sassoon had him read a public tweet from last year from a thread that began "Today, we are older, and wiser," in which SBF wrote: "But the truth is, there's always been regulation in crypto."
- Immediately after, she produced a direct message from him to a Vox reporter — that he never intended to become public — in which he said: "Yeah. Just PR. F*** regulators."
💭 Crystal's thought bubble: There were a couple of moments from SBF's testimony that reminded me of former President Clinton's famous meaning of "is."
Zoom in: When SBF was asked how involved he was in his hedge fund Alameda Research's trading decisions, he said: "Depends on how you define trading."
At another point, he played with the definition of "margin trading."
- Prosecutor Sassoon: "Just to be clear, Mr. Bankman-Fried, taking money from FTX to pay back lenders, that's not margin trading, is it?"
- SBF: "I'm not — I don't think that's what happened, and I'm also not saying that's not margin trading."
- After the judge prodded him to answer, he said: "It's my testimony that it depends on the details, but that very well could be a margin trade."
The clincher: SBF's frustration peaked when Sassoon presented a document on FTX key principles submitted to Congress in early 2022. It included a statement that, "adequate liquid resources to ensure the platform can return the customer's assets upon request."
- When asked to read a portion of this document aloud, SBF mocked an informercial-like voice.
The bottom line: Not the best face to present to a jury that is days from deliberating and delivering a verdict.