To be frank, Sam Bankman-Fried is facing a grim situation. During the closing statement delivered by Nicolas Roos, the prosecution presented compelling evidence that strongly indicated Bankman-Fried’s guilt in wire fraud and conspiracy charges related to FTX. This evidence included contemporaneous written records that suggested he had used FTX customer deposits for personal gain, funneling them through his trading firm, Alameda Research. The motive behind his actions, as stated by Roos, was sheer greed.
In all honesty, Roos could have concluded his closing statement after the first hour, given the substantial evidence implicating Bankman-Fried. However, he continued for several more hours, meticulously laying out the case.
As Roos spoke, the jury was fully engaged, taking notes and paying close attention. There was no sign of boredom or distraction. Despite a minor technical glitch, Roos’s argument was well-delivered, and he maintained eye contact with the jury.
Watching Roos present the evidence, it became clear why the defense had opted for a non-chronological presentation. The chronological order of events did not favor Bankman-Fried, as it revealed inconsistencies in his knowledge and statements. For instance, a tweet claiming “Assets are fine” was made four hours after Bankman-Fried acknowledged an $8 billion shortfall in customer funds in a Signal chat.
Mark Cohen, the defense lawyer, faced a challenging task. He delivered a lackluster closing statement, reading from a document and speaking in a monotonous tone. Cohen emphasized that making mistakes is not a crime and attempted to portray Alameda and FTX as legitimate and innovative businesses, although the nature of their innovation remained unclear.
Cohen accused the prosecution of unfairly cross-examining Bankman-Fried, suggesting that Roos framed his answers as rambling or evasive. However, Cohen’s defense did little to improve the situation, and he even displayed photos of Bankman-Fried in luxurious settings, reinforcing the unflattering image the prosecution had painted.
Cohen’s attempt to confuse the jury with technical details about Alameda’s net asset value and FTX’s risk engines appeared to bore the jurors, as some checked the courtroom clock. He unintentionally made Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison seem more credible by defending her tweets during FTX’s troubled period.
The case still awaits the prosecution’s rebuttal to Cohen’s arguments before going to the jury, but it appears that even a highly skilled defense lawyer would struggle with this overwhelming evidence. Bankman-Fried’s defense hinges on portraying him as a kind, introverted individual who wouldn’t intentionally harm anyone, but the prosecution’s evidence is extensive, and it contradicts the testimony of three cooperating witnesses, including Yedidia, who hasn’t been charged with a crime. Bankman-Fried’s own credibility was also called into question during his testimony.
In conclusion, the closing arguments highlighted the one-sided nature of the case, with the prosecution presenting a compelling case supported by extensive evidence while Bankman-Fried’s defense seemed to rely on excuses rather than substantive arguments. Bankman-Fried’s anxiety during the proceedings was evident, given the strength of the prosecution’s case.