Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is telling a story of classic financial deceit


The courtroom drama unfolding round FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) has all of the components of a binge-worthy Netflix sequence, replete with a forged of shady characters and a plot that thickens with every passing day. Among the highlights had been SBF’s lofty presidential ambitions and a staggering $100-150 million bribe to Chinese officials, which add a surreal twist to the narrative.

If SBF aimed to script a thrilling courtroom drama for his Netflix debut, he is nailed it. However, on the subject of establishing his innocence, the plot leaves a lot to be desired.

The courtroom was electrified by testimony from Caroline Ellison, the previous CEO of Alameda Research, FTX’s buying and selling arm. It resonated with brutal honesty that is uncommon in such high-stake trials. It was emotional and uncooked, in a honest means. One stunning revelation she shared was that the corporate created seven fraudulent balance sheets created seven fraudulent steadiness sheets, laid out for SBF to cherry-pick one that may finest serve his agenda.

Related: It’s time for the SEC to settle with Coinbase and Ripple

“When I started working at Alameda, I don’t think I would have believed you if you told me I would be sending false balance sheets to our lenders, or taking customer money, but over time, it was something I became more comfortable with,” Ellison informed jurors.

The jury would not appear to want a spoiler alert to foretell the ending of this story. The overwhelming proof factors in direction of a responsible verdict, a danger calculus that appears to elude SBF. Which isn’t stunning on condition that he was finally answerable for calculating the percentages for FTX’s danger administration earlier than it imploded.

When the gavel lastly falls, it is more likely to echo the decision handed right down to Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes — although it might simply surpass her 11-year sentence. (He’s dealing with a mixed complete of greater than 100 years.) And the authorized rollercoaster doesn’t finish right here for SBF, as a result of a second trial is as a result of start in March. That trial will embrace six charges past the seven in court docket immediately, together with marketing campaign finance violations.

Grifters are going to grift. But what are the takeaways from this riveting saga?

There’s a profound lesson to be discovered from the SBF trial. While cryptocurrency is hailed for its potential to redefine the financial ecosystem, the trial is displaying how conventional financial deceit can infiltrate the house, casting lengthy shadows over the revolutionary promise of blockchain expertise.

As SBF awaits his destiny within the courtroom, the crypto neighborhood ought to seize this second to replicate, be taught, and realign with the elemental ethos of cryptocurrency. The journey of self-custody could also be laden with challenges, however it’s a path that results in financial autonomy and empowerment, embodying the true spirit of what cryptocurrencies are envisioned to be.

As the trial unfolds and the crypto world watches with bated breath, let it function a catalyst for introspection and a return to fundamentals of self-custody and decentralization.

FTX’s fall from grace wasn’t a product of crypto’s inherent flaws however a classic story of financial deceit, the place the crypto panorama was merely the backdrop. The fraud wasn’t distinctive to the crypto area; it was the age-old narrative of unaudited steadiness sheets assembly fraud, a scene proper out of the standard finance playbook.

This trial isn’t simply a sensational headline; it’s a stark reminder of the perils of veering away from the core rules of cryptocurrency. The ethos of crypto is rooted within the elimination of middlemen, which stands in stark distinction to the narrative SBF spun round his empire.

While the founders of bona fide crypto exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken advocate for the mantra of “not your keys, not your coins,” selling self-custody, SBF championed the alternative, urging traders to entrust him with their digital property — maybe as a result of he deliberate to steal them.

Related: Michael Lewis’ new book puts a positive spin on Sam Bankman-Fried

A slew of crypto traders, enticed by the mirage of comfort, relinquished the accountability of self-custodying their property, permitting SBF and his crew of pirates to steer the ship, a lot to their detriment.

The conventional banking system, with its ease and comfort, comes at a hefty worth— censorship dangers, fiat inflation, hidden charges, and sluggish transactions. Self custody, like freedom, isn’t straightforward, it’s exhausting. But crypto isn’t alleged to be straightforward. It is a revolution in finance aimed to make you extra free and empowered. It’s not meant to be a stroll within the park; it’s a revolution geared toward empowering people within the financial realm.

This trial beckons a return to the fundamentals for the crypto neighborhood. It’s excessive time to delve again into the writings of cypherpunk visionaries like Timothy May, Eric Hughes, and modern-day prophets like Vitalik Buterin and Nick Szabo.

Ignore the flashy adverts, sidestep the crypto clickbait, and make investments time in understanding the rules of {hardware} wallets and operational safety. Dive into the ethos of the cypherpunks, grasp the essence of operational safety, and make sure you’re within the crypto house for the appropriate causes. The attract of “number go up” and the attraction of charismatic founders ought to by no means eclipse the elemental rules that kind the bedrock of cryptocurrency.

J.W. Verret is an affiliate professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. He is a working towards crypto forensic accountant and in addition practices securities legislation at Lawrence Law LLC. He is a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Advisory Council and a former member of the SEC Investor Advisory Committee. He additionally leads the Crypto Freedom Lab, a suppose tank preventing for coverage change to protect freedom and privateness for crypto builders and customers.

This article is for common info functions and is not meant to be and shouldn’t be taken as authorized or funding recommendation. The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed here are the writer’s alone and don’t essentially replicate or signify the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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