Crypto Mogul Sam Bankman-Fried’s Emotional Trial Comes to a Close

In a Manhattan courtroom that was tense with anticipation, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the crypto exchange FTX, found himself on the precipice of a critical moment late Wednesday, as his attorney Mark S. Cohen delivered his closing remarks. The proceedings marked Bankman-Fried’s last, best hope for acquittal or, at the very least, a hung jury, in the face of charges related to FTX’s bankruptcy and the alleged misappropriation of customer funds.

Bankman-Fried, known for his role in building not one but two multi-billion-dollar businesses in the cryptocurrency market, appeared noticeably emotional throughout the courtroom drama. In a departure from his usual jittery demeanor, he stood almost perfectly still, his gaze fixed on his parents in the courtroom gallery. Blinking heavily and taking big gulps of water, it was evident that this was a moment of immense gravity for the crypto entrepreneur.

Sam Bankman-Fried

Cohen’s closing argument was laden with emotion, as he passionately addressed the jurors. “Sam did his best to start and operate two multi-billion-dollar businesses in a new market,” Cohen asserted. He acknowledged that some decisions made by Bankman-Fried had been successful, while others had led to less favorable outcomes. The attorney left the jurors with a powerful appeal, urging them to find that Bankman-Fried had acted in “good faith” during his tenure as the head of FTX and Alameda Research, his cryptocurrency trading firm. This argument was central to their defense, as it would render Bankman-Fried immune from being convicted of fraud.

Cohen’s narrative offered an “alternative history” that starkly contrasted the prosecution’s version of events. According to Cohen, it was not a deliberate act of fraud that led to FTX’s bankruptcy in November but a series of unfortunate real-world circumstances. He argued that “real-world miscommunications,” “mistakes,” and “delays” had placed FTX and the rest of Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire in jeopardy, absolving his client of any wrongdoing.

Throughout the closing arguments, Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, watched the proceedings with rapt attention. Bankman-Fried, as he exited the courtroom, was met with an emotional display from his mother. She had remained stoic and steely-eyed throughout the trial but, as the day’s proceedings came to a close, she uncrossed her arms, placed her hand over her heart, and then buried her face in her hands.

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