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Fintech - October 12, 2023

Courtroom Drama: Caroline Ellison to Take the Stand in Sam Bankman-Fried’s Trial

Amidst the judicial proceedings that transpired on October 11, 2023, in the heart of New York City, Caroline Ellison, the erstwhile helmswoman of the crypto hedge fund Alameda Research, is set to once again take the witness stand. She finds herself enmeshed in Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial, the former luminary at FTX, who currently stands accused of perpetrating fraudulent actions that led to the demise of the defunct cryptocurrency exchange.

Ellison, a prominent figure in the crypto realm and an erstwhile co-captain of Alameda Research alongside Bankman-Fried, has been providing a detailed account of her involvement in what prosecutors assert was a multi-billion dollar malfeasance, orchestrated by her former employer and erstwhile romantic partner.

During her two-day testimony, Ellison, who assumed the reins at Alameda Research in 2021, disclosed the fund’s utilization of $10 billion from FTX’s clientele for debt settlement and investment endeavors. She professed an abiding anxiety that the truth would eventually come to light, and the ultimate unraveling of FTX last year brought an overwhelming sense of relief.

The legal counsel for Bankman-Fried, Mark Cohen, is poised to continue the cross-examination of Ellison, an engagement that was briefly initiated on the preceding day before the adjournment of proceedings.

Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried, aged 31, engaged in the misappropriation of customer funds, diverting them to bolster Alameda, invest in real estate, and donate more than $100 million to political campaigns in the United States. The abrupt collapse and subsequent bankruptcy of FTX in November 2022 reverberated through the financial landscape, leaving Bankman-Fried’s reputation in tatters.

Bankman-Fried, vehemently maintaining his innocence, faces two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy. He contends that any mistakes in managing FTX were not indicative of an intention to pilfer funds.

Ellison, a 28-year-old alumnus of Stanford University, forms one of a trio of individuals who were once part of Sam Bankman-Fried’s inner sanctum and have since pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges. They have also pledged their cooperation with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office. In earlier proceedings, Gary Wang, FTX’s former chief technologist, testified that Bankman-Fried had disseminated misleading information on Twitter, falsely asserting that FTX was in sound condition, despite surging withdrawal demands. A third cooperative witness, Nishad Singh, the former engineering chief at FTX, is expected to testify in the ensuing weeks, promising to extend the trial’s duration.

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