The trial of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried begins today, nearly one year after the collapse of his crypto exchange following an alleged fraud totaling $8 billion dollars.

The 31-year-old former billionaire will face a jury in a Manhattan court on accusations that he embezzled from FTX customers in order to prop up his hedge fund Alameda Research, buy luxury properties and donate more than $100 million to U.S. political candidates.

He launched the company in 2019 and it quickly grew into an enterprise worth tens of billions of dollars. Bankman-Fried recruited A-list celebrities from Tom Brady to Larry David to promote the firm and also rubbed shoulders with leading politicians like Bill Clinton.

But the company suffered a catastrophic collapse in November 2022, leaving customers roughly $10 billion out of pocket, prosecutors claim. The saga shocked markets and tattered SBF’s once god-like reputation within the crypto industry.

A bombshell trial is expected to feature his ex-girlfriend and former top lieutenant, Caroline Ellison, 29, as the prosecution’s star witness.

The 31-year-old former billionaire will face a jury in a Manhattan court on accusations that he embezzled billions from customers of FTX, his failed cryptocurrency platform

The 31-year-old former billionaire will face a jury in a Manhattan court on accusations that he embezzled billions from customers of FTX, his failed cryptocurrency platform

A bombshell trial is expected to feature his ex-girlfriend and former top lieutenant, Caroline Ellison, 29, as the prosecution's star witness

A bombshell trial is expected to feature his ex-girlfriend and former top lieutenant, Caroline Ellison, 29, as the prosecution’s star witness

QUESTIONS FOR JURY 

These are some of the questions that Bankman-Fried’s lawyers intend to ask prospective jurors during selection

:: Do you have a negative opinion about cryptocurrency? 

:: If a company involved in the cryptocurrency industry or the financial industry fails, do you feel that only the owners of the company must be to blame?

:: Do you have any negative opinion about amassing wealth to support causes to improve the world or help others?

:: The defendant in this case has ADHD, which might affect things like his physical behavior, body language, or eye contact. Please raise your hand if you have never had any personal or professional experience with ADHD. Do you have any opinion about the fact that the defendant has ADHD?

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The trial, overseen by Judge Lewis Kaplan, is slated to begin with jury selection at 9.30am on Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried has acknowledged inadequate risk management, but denied stealing funds. His lawyers have signaled in court papers they plan to argue that FTX’s treatment of customer funds were proper, and that others at FTX and Alameda bore the bulk of the blame for their failure.

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks. It will feature testimony from three former members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, including Ellison, who have pleaded guilty to fraud charges themselves and agreed to cooperate with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have signaled they plan to challenge the credibility of those witnesses – who also include former FTX executives Gary Wang and Nishad Singh – by arguing they are motivated to implicate their client to get a lower sentence for themselves, a common strategy in white collar fraud cases.

The case has been likened to the trial of Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who was jailed for 11 years for defrauding investors in her medical company out of $945 million.

Potential jurors in Bankman-Fried’s case are expected to be asked whether they have a negative view of crytpocurrency, and whether they have any experience with ADHD, a condition which Bankman-Fried has.

Bankman-Fried, pictured sleeping on a beanbag, had an almost god-like reputation within the crypto industry, but prosecutors allege it was built on lies

Bankman-Fried, pictured sleeping on a beanbag, had an almost god-like reputation within the crypto industry, but prosecutors allege it was built on lies

The case has been likened to the trial of Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who was jailed for 11 years for defrauding investors in her medical company out of $945 million

The case has been likened to the trial of Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who was jailed for 11 years for defrauding investors in her medical company out of $945 million

Like Holmes’ case, it is likely to include reems of complicated financial evidence. It will also delve into the complex technology behind cryptocurrency and trading, in a similar vein to the inclusion of complicated scientific evidence in Holmes’ trial. 

Bankman-Fried’s is the highest profile case U.S. prosecutors have so far brought against a former cryptocurrency executive.

His indictment last December marked a spectacular fall from grace for Bankman-Fried, who had garnered a reputation as a legitimate operator in an industry whose image was pockmarked by scams and purported get-rich-quick schemes.

Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried built that reputation on lies and bolstered it with endorsements from celebrities and star athletes.

Bankman-Fried has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since Aug. 11, after the judge found he had likely engaged in witness tampering – including by sharing Ellison’s personal writings with a reporter. 

He will be brought to court early on most days to allow him to prepare with his lawyers.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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