A single question has dominated the first week of Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial: which version of this tech bro do you believe?
Prosecutors have cast Bankman-Fried – the 31-year-old founder of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX – as the mastermind of a $10bn fraud, among the largest and most nefarious in American history. They say he selfishly squandered the money of customers who put their trust in FTX. He lavished the cash on ritzy properties, ill-gotten influence, glamorous travel, and the highest-profile ads, all while concealing a hidden mountain of debt, they allege.
His lawyers, by contrast, have done their best to portray him as a wayward boy genius – a “math nerd who didn’t drink or party”, according to his lawyers’ opening statement. They describe the motivation for his actions not as malice so much as inexperience with normal business operations. An observer could only wonder whether Bankman-Fried’s misshapen haircut and ill-fitting suit – purchased at Macy’s at a 40% discount, according to the Wall Street Journal – were a ploy for sympathy along the same lines.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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