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SBF Testimony Misses The Prosecution's Point, Says Defense Lawyer
SBF's defense team's strategy of putting him on the stand comes with high risks - and very little chance of gain.
Yesterday, Sam Bankman-Fried once again took the stand in a high-stakes attempt to sway the jury in his favor. Unfortunately, at least for him, it did anything but.
In his testimony, SBF claimed to have no memory of key conversations and events, contradicted previous statements he had made, and denied knowledge of things that were a matter of public record. In one particularly scorching exchange, the prosecution actually handed him FTX's Terms of Service to make their point.
"I Made Mistakes"
In his previous testimony on Friday, SBF has admitted that he made mistakes. However, he claims that he did not defraud anyone. His biggest mistake was a lack of risk management, he said.
Putting SBF on the stand was always going to be a gamble. His rambling style, inability to give a straight answer, and level of self-delusion means that the jury could easily turn against him, if they haven't already. That, in itself, speaks volumes.
The fact that his lawyers decided to take that chance indicates that the case is not going well for him. Allowing him to speak in his own defense was a Hail Mary. His lawyers had likely realized that the damning testimony provided by Caroline Ellison and other former FTX core team members had sealed his fate unless they could somehow pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Essentially, they assumed they had nothing to lose. They gave SBF enough rope either to fashion a lifeline, or to hang himself. The smart money was always on the latter...
Beside The Point
Defense lawyer Sam Enzer spoke to Laura Shin about how this strategy might play out. His view is that SBF's statements that he "didn't intend to defraud anyone" and "made mistakes" wouldn't have helped anyway, because they don't address the government's basic premise: He lied to obtain customers' money. "Even if you never lost a penny, you can't get money from people by lying about it," he says.
A lot of his testimony has been irrelevant to this issue, says Enzer. It simply doesn't answer that key accusation, that he deliberately misled FTX's customers.
For that reason, it's likely that the defense's last-ditch attempt to rescue their client has failed. There's little he could say that would persuade them of his innocence, and even less that he has said that will buy him any goodwill.
If we could short Sam Bankman-Fried, we would.
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