Former crypto titan Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, is currently facing charges of fraud and money laundering in connection with the collapse of his exchange. His criminal trial began on Tuesday with the process of jury selection. The judge presiding over the case is 78-year-old Lewis Kaplan.
Bankman-Fried appeared in court on the first day of his trial with a new haircut reportedly given to him by a fellow inmate at the Brooklyn jail where he has been held since August. He wore a freshly pressed suit and entered the courtroom without shackles, in contrast to his previous court appearances.
Journalists and jury summonses holders were in attendance for the trial, and most reporters were directed to an overflow room with monitors showing live video feeds of the courtroom. The room was described as cold, with poor acoustics.
Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, sat between his attorneys and consulted with them as the proceedings began. The day started slowly, with the jury selection process commencing close to 11 A.M. and a break for lunch before 12:30 P.M.
Judge Kaplan, known for his no-nonsense approach, displayed his candor in court. When his desktop computer beeped, he confessed that he didn’t “speak computer” and referred to his clerks as “computer whisperers.” The judge informed Bankman-Fried that he had the right to testify and that the decision was his alone to make.
It is not yet known whether Bankman-Fried will testify in his own defense, but he will have the opportunity to do so if he wishes. Witnesses expected to take the stand include Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and the former CEO of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison, as well as his former best friend from high school, Gary Wang.
The first step in the trial is the selection of a 12-person jury, along with a few alternates. Judge Kaplan will be asking the jury questions and expects the jury to be seated by Wednesday at the earliest. Several potential jurors mentioned being familiar with Bankman-Fried, with their knowledge coming from periodicals and podcasts.
The judge concluded the day by instructing potential jurors not to discuss the case with anyone. The trial will resume on Wednesday with jury questioning and opening statements.
In summary, former crypto titan Sam Bankman-Fried is currently on trial for fraud and money laundering charges related to the collapse of FTX. The trial began with jury selection, with Judge Lewis Kaplan presiding over the case. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty, and his potential witnesses include his ex-girlfriend and former best friend. The trial will continue with the selection of a jury and opening statements.