Two of the people closest to Sam Bankman-Fried were asked the same question as they began their testimony this week: Did they commit financial crimes while they were working at FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange that crumbled last fall?
Both Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison answered ‘Yes.’
While the finer points of cryptocurrencies, financial market trading and securities law can seem dizzying, the most striking moments in the first two weeks of Bankman-Fried’s trial have been relatively simple.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key moments from the trial so far:
The cocoa bean trader
The government began its case not with an FTX insider but with a commodities broker named Marc-Antoine Julliard, who said he invested $100,000 with FTX.
Julliard testified that he decided to buy digital currencies to diversify his investments and that he bought through FTX because it had attracted so much media coverage and because of the celebrities and investment funds involved with it. He said he didn’t make any risky trades but lost almost all of his investment when FTX failed.
Prosecutors called him to represent typical investors who, according to the government, lost money because Bankman-Fried and his co-workers fooled those investors and spent the money on themselves or gave it to lenders to Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argue that he didn’t defraud anyone, that startups like FTX are complex and often fail and that the government is looking for someone to blame for customers’ losses.