It’s the fifth week of Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial for seven charges of fraud and money laundering during to his time as the CEO of former crypto exchange FTX. He’s been on the stand since Thursday to testify, and there was a tangible shift of tone Monday when prosecutors took over for cross examination.
On Friday and for part of Monday morning, Bankman-Fried, dressed in another oversized gray suit, answered questions from his main defense lawyer, Mark Cohen. The courtroom benches for the public were full.
At the end of the defense’s examination, Cohen asked Bankman-Fried why he spoke out in public shortly after he stepped down as CEO and FTX filed for bankruptcy. “I felt like it was the right thing to do to talk about what happened,” he said. “I had my memory . . . [but] very little beyond that,” he said, referring to him being cut off from access to FTX’s internal documents after his departure.
“I wanted to apologize for what happened and explain this as best I can at the time,” he said. After FTX collapsed, Bankman-Fried went on “Good Morning America” and other outlets, as well as Twitter Spaces with internet personalities like Mario Nawfal.
Once assistant U.S. attorney for the SDNY Danielle Sassoon began to cross-examine Bankman-Fried in front of a jury, he was quick to reply, but only repeated a handful of uncertain expressions, like “I don’t recall,” “I may have,” “Sounds plausible,” “I’m not sure,” “Possibly,” and “Sounds right.” He waffled so many times that the overflow room, filled with public spectators and other reporters, echoed with laughter.
Sassoon appeared to be trying to portray the former CEO as a serial liar, using his highly public past interviews before his arrest in mid-December as ammunition.