Sam Bankman-Fried says he didn’t defraud FTX customers

On Friday, Sam Bankman-Fried sat on the stand, once again in an oversized gray suit and purple tie, and testified in front of a jury. He’s on trial for seven charges related to fraud and money laundering and has been sitting silently the past four weeks, waiting for his chance to speak.

Bankman-Fried co-founded FTX in 2019 alongside Gary Wang, after they co-founded crypto trading firm Alameda Research in the fall of 2017. At the time, they were 25 years old with no history of starting a company, he said. When he got into the crypto world, he said he knew “basically nothing.” But over time, he said, his vision grew to “build the best [crypto exchange] product on the market” and to “move the ecosystem forward.”

“Turned out [to be] the opposite of that,” Bankman-Fried said. “A lot of people got hurt.”

When asked by his lead lawyer, Mark Cohen, whether he defrauded or took customer funds, Bankman-Fried said, “No, I did not.”

On Thursday, Judge Lewis Kaplan heard from Bankman-Fried without a jury to determine whether his testimony could be shared with jurors. Among those topics: FTX’s data retention policy, the fact that he “skimmed over” terms of service, Alameda’s use of the exchanges’ customer funds, and more information about Dan Friedberg, who Bankman-Fried hired to be FTX’s general counsel.

On the stand on Friday, Bankman-Fried seemed more thoughtful with his answers than he had the previous day. “I made a number of small mistakes,” Bankman-Fried said Friday. But he said the biggest mistake was having no risk management team at FTX, which led to “significant oversights.”

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