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Opening statements in the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried are made.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thane Rehn, in his opening statement about former FTX CEO, highlighted a striking narrative: “His girlfriend will tell you how they stole money together.” This statement set the stage for a courtroom drama that would unfold quite differently as prosecutors and defense attorneys presented contrasting perspectives on the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the former FTX CEO, also known as SBF.

In a New York courtroom on October 4th, Assistant United States Attorney Thane Rehn and SBF’s attorney, Mark Cohen, engaged in a legal showdown before a jury of 12 and six alternates, carefully chosen by Judge Lewis Kaplan after a thorough interrogation of nearly 50 individuals. They discussed the events leading to the crypto exchange FTX’s collapse and Bankman-Fried’s alleged involvement.

According to a thread by Inner City Press, Rehn argued in court that SBF not only enriched himself using FTX customer funds but also swayed lawmakers through campaign donations and testimonies to portray himself as trustworthy. The assistant U.S. attorney asserted that Bankman-Fried had consistently deceived users, employees, lawmakers, and the public concerning FTX’s dire financial situation in November 2022.

Rehn stated, “The hole was too big,” and attributed it to a downturn in the crypto market. However, he alleged fraud on SBF’s part, a claim he promised to substantiate with evidence. “You will hear from his inner circle. His girlfriend will tell you how they stole money together,” Rehn asserted.

Following Rehn’s compelling argument, Cohen took the floor and shifted the blame toward SBF’s former girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ). Cohen claimed that Ellison had neglected to hedge Alameda Research’s investments despite Bankman-Fried’s recommendations and that CZ’s social media posts had triggered a run on FTX.

SBF’s defense team portrayed the former CEO as someone who acted in good faith during a period of rapid growth in the volatile crypto market. They disputed the characterization of SBF as a “bad guy” for spending funds on a Bahamas penthouse and celebrity endorsements, arguing, “It’s not a crime to try to get Tom Brady.”

Cohen explained, “Alameda took big margin loans from FTX. Nothing wrong with that. Alameda was a market maker. Nothing wrong with that. FTX, initially lacking a bank account for fiat, relied on an Alameda account.”

October 4th marked the second day of Bankman-Fried’s inaugural criminal trial, anticipated to span approximately six weeks. He had pleaded not guilty to seven charges related to alleged fraud at FTX and was scheduled for a second trial in March 2024. As the trial progressed, the audience eagerly awaited the potential testimonies of Ellison and other former crypto exchange executives involved in the case.

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