Former FTX engineering director Nishad Singh reportedly told a New York courtroom that former CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried had a habit of deciding on purchases through Alameda Research by himself.
According to reports from SBF’s criminal trial on Oct. 16, Singh said that while Caroline Ellison and Sam Trabucco led Alameda, Bankman-Fried was “ultimately” in charge of the company. The former engineering director reportedly testified that “SBF would unilaterally spend Alameda’s money” despite his supposedly separate role at FTX, also threatening to fire Ellison.
“I learned of spending [at Alameda] after the fact,” said Singh, according to reports. “I’d complain about the excess and flashiness, which I found different than what we were building the company for. [SBF would] say I didn’t understand, he was out there interacting with people. I thought we were fleeced for $20 million, he said I was sowing doubt.”
“Sam is a formidable character. I came to distrust him.”
The former engineering director reportedly cited investments in artificial intelligence startup Anthropic and K5 Global, the investment firm linked to high-profile figures such as former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Hollywood celebrities. According to Singh, SBF ordered him and former chief technology officer Gary Wang to go ahead with a $1 billion investment in K5 Global co-owners Michael Kives and Bryan Baum’s venture capital firm.
“I asked that it be done with Sam’s money and not FTX’s money,” said Singh according to reports.
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Singh’s testimony came on the ninth day of Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial, which kicked off in New York on Oct. 3. Members of the jury have already heard from Ellison and Wang. Ellison, Wang, Singh and former FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to Alameda using FTX funds for investments without users’ consent. Salame is not expected to testify in the trial, and it was unclear if the defense team intended to put SBF on the stand.
Prior to Singh, prosecutors called on FTX user Tareq Morad on Oct. 16 to speak on his understanding of how the crypto exchange planned to use his deposits and how his perception of Bankman-Fried influenced his decision to invest with the firm. Morad reportedly testified that amid reports of withdrawal issues at FTX in November 2022, he believed SBF’s “assets are fine” tweet.
Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial is expected to run through November, following which he will likely enter another courtroom in March 2024 to face similar charges. The former FTX CEO has pleaded not guilty to all 12 counts of his indictment.
So far in court, Ellison, Wang and Singh all admitted to committing crimes with Bankman-Fried. Ellison testified she provided fraudulent documents and made misleading statements concerning Alameda using FTX funds, and Wang said those in charge “allowed Alameda to withdraw unlimited funds.”