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In the Bankman-Fried case, prosecutors claim that “effective altruism” is insufficient.

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Amid the ongoing fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, his legal team has made a rather unconventional argument. They argue that his self-proclaimed commitment to effective altruism, a philosophy that advocates for the most impactful ways to help others, does not absolve him of the allegations against him. Bankman-Fried stands accused of misappropriating billions of dollars from FTX customers, diverting these funds for personal purposes like political donations, real estate acquisitions, and investments.

In a recent letter submitted as evidence, the prosecution countered this argument. They pointed out that Bankman-Fried’s legal team tried to justify his actions by claiming he intended to reimburse customers through FTX’s growth and profitable investments. However, the prosecution contends that this argument lacks relevance and does not absolve the fraud allegations.

Bankman-Fried’s defense, in an attempt to paint him as a philanthropist deeply committed to creating a positive global impact, emphasizes his endorsement of effective altruism. This philosophical movement encourages individuals to make a meaningful difference through charitable contributions or pursuing careers with a substantial societal influence.

Prosecutors strongly oppose this defense strategy, arguing that effective altruism cannot serve as a legitimate defense against fraud. They categorize it as an “unconventional philosophy regarding the ethics of deception and theft.” In their view, this ideology has no bearing on mens rea, the mental state required to establish a fraud case.

The trial, which Cointelegraph has been diligently covering in New York, is now entering its third week. Over this period, the prosecution has presented multiple witnesses, including Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research; Nishad Singh, former engineering chief of FTX and Alameda; and Gary Wang, a co-founder of the now-defunct FTX.

Based on their testimonies, it is alleged that Bankman-Fried instructed them to obtain funds from FTX customers without their knowledge or consent, diverting these funds for purposes unrelated to FTX’s standard operations. Moreover, they claim that Bankman-Fried was well aware of the potential risks and consequences of his actions and actively concealed them from regulatory authorities, auditors, and the public. To support these claims, the prosecution introduced a comprehensive compilation of emails, messages, spreadsheets, and bank records, shedding light on the extent of Bankman-Fried’s deceptive plan.

As the trial progresses, the finalization of jury instructions is expected in the coming week, followed by closing arguments. Subsequently, the jury will embark on their deliberations to determine the legal fate of Sam Bankman-Fried.

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