Key moments in Sam Bankman-Fried's fraud trial


FILE PHOTO: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is questioned by prosecutor Danielle Sassoon (not seen) during his fraud trial over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange at federal court in New York City, U.S., October 31, 2023 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg/File Photo

(Reuters) - Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted on Thursday of defrauding customers of his now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange, FTX.

Here are some key moments from the trial:

'BUILDING THE PLANE AS THEY WERE FLYING'

Bankman-Fried's attorney Mark Cohen said during opening statements that FTX was a fledgling company hit by negative publicity and a downturn in the cryptocurrency market.

"Sam and his colleagues were building the plane as they were flying it," Cohen said.

CAROLINE ELLISON LIVED IN 'DREAD'

Ellison, the former chief executive of Bankman-Fried's crypto hedge fund Alameda Research and his on-off girlfriend, testified that she knew Alameda had borrowed billions of dollars from FTX, leaving the exchange in a tenuous position if many customers sought to withdraw their money.

She said she lived in "dread" and FTX's collapse last November came as a "relief."

"I felt a sense of relief that I didn't have to lie anymore," she said through tears.

'WE LIED' TO THE PUBLIC

Gary Wang, Bankman-Fried's college roommate and ex-colleague, told jurors that Bankman-Fried had him give Alameda special trading privileges on FTX.

"We gave special privileges to Alameda Research on FTX, which allowed it to withdraw unlimited amounts of funds from the platform, and we lied about this to the public," Wang said.

'A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT HURT'

"We thought that we might be able to build the best product on the market," Bankman-Fried said in his first day on the stand. "It turned out basically the opposite of that. A lot of people got hurt," he said.

$8 BILLION DEBT 'SURPRISED' BANKMAN-FRIED

Bankman-Fried testified he was "very surprised" when he realized in October 2022 that Alameda had borrowed $8 billion from FTX customer deposits, and that the loan was not recorded on Alameda's main account. But he believed the hedge fund had enough assets to repay the debt.

"If it were far larger, I would have been calling a crisis," he said on the stand.

BANKMAN-FRIED'S FATE RESTS WITH FORMER FRIENDS

During closing arguments, Prosecutor Nicolas Roos told jurors to rely on Ellison, Wang and Nishad Singh, FTX's former director of engineering - all of whom were in Bankman-Fried's inner circle before becoming cooperating witnesses in the case.

"If you believe even one of those witnesses is telling the truth about this, the defendant is guilty," he said.

(Reporting by Jody Godoy and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Daniel Wallis)

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