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The FTX Trial is Heating Up

Convicted for fraud, the former crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried is trying to offload the blame. But a key witness weakens his case.

The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is underway in Manhattan. Investors in FTX lost billions of dollars earlier this year, but Bankman-Fried is denying alleged fraud and misuse of funds. However, prosecutors are accusing him of systematically stealing those funds and channeling them unto personal means. A bombshell witness, Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and a “top executive” in his business, took the stand earlier this month and supported the criticisms of the prosecution. David Gura writes for NPR,

Though other former top executives at FTX businesses are testifying during the trial, Ellison was always considered the most important witness.

After prosecutors first called her to the witness stand, everyone stood and faced the two wooden doors at the back of Kaplan’s courtroom. Moments later, Ellison was led down the center aisle to the witness stand.

When the prosecution asked Ellison whether she could identify Bankman-Fried for the jury, Ellison stood, squinted and scanned the room. It took almost a minute for her to locate him.

It has been almost a year since Ellison pleaded guilty to several criminal charges, including counts of fraud and conspiracy, and agreed to cooperate with the U.S. government in its multicount case against Bankman-Fried.

She is hoping for leniency in exchange, when she is sentenced after this trial ends.

-David Gura, A star witness delivers explosive testimony against Sam Bankman-Fried : NPR

Ellison said that Bankman-Fried channeled investment funds into his other company, Alameda, which he started before co-founding FTX. He purportedly also used the money to support his extravagant lifestyle.

Ellison is considered the most lethal of witnesses against Bankman-Fried, but the trial is still underway. Should Bankman-Fried be found guilty, he could face life in prison.

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The FTX Trial is Heating Up