Hillary Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Jeff Bezos, and members of the Kardashian family were among the star-studded guest list at a Beverly Hills dinner party attended by Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX. However, it was not long before his employees suspected foul play, fearing a possible kidnap attempt. Now, the former crypto whizz finds himself in a Manhattan courtroom, desperately trying to convince jurors of his innocence in one of the largest fraud cases in US history.
FTX executive testimonies revealed that Bankman-Fried directed senior executives to commit crimes, leading to his decision to testify himself at trial. Ironically, his staff once worried about his safety due to his access to billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies. His attempts to court famous personalities, such as Hillary Clinton and Katy Perry, were aimed at generating buzz for the cryptocurrency industry.
Bankman-Fried, once hailed as a Silicon Valley prodigy, now faces allegations of running a Ponzi scheme and fraudulently using customers' deposits to finance his lavish lifestyle and investments. His defence maintains that he did not defraud anyone intentionally and was instead a victim of collapsing cryptocurrency prices. The trial also implicates Bankman-Fried's close confederates, including his parents, who are being sued by the company for the return of cash and gifts.
As the trial unfolds, questions arise about the involvement of celebrity endorsers, like Tom Brady and Larry David, who face legal consequences for promoting FTX. Bankman-Fried's lavish spending on celebrity endorsements and advertisements were exhibited as evidence in court. Furthermore, his connections to Democratic politicians, as a result of political contributions, raise concerns about their acceptance of his money and influence on cryptocurrency legislation.
Michael Lewis's new biography of Bankman-Fried, coinciding with the trial, sheds light on his peculiar personality and unorthodox business practices. From his socially awkward nature to a video game distraction during a Zoom call with Anna Wintour, the author portrays a man detached from conventional expectations. The trial will determine whether Bankman-Fried was an idealistic but immature visionary or a remorseless fraudster.