The second week of the criminal trial for former FTX exchange CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried continues on Oct. 10, with all eyes on the testimony from key witness Caroline Ellison.
Ellison is a former romantic partner of SBF and the former CEO of the FTX-affiliated hedge fund Alameda Research, which also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2022.
The former Alameda CEO had lived with Bankman-Fried, along with other FTX executives, in the Bahamas for a period of time.
Given Ellison’s former positions, she was a part of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle. In her testimony, prosecutors and the presiding judge over the case, Lewis Kaplan, expect her to provide details regarding the shuffling of customer funds between FTX and Alameda Research.
The main focus of the trial thus far has been the alleged fraudulent use of customer funds to repay FTX debtors.
Particularly anticipated will be Ellison’s commentary on a meeting in November 2022, during which she admitted to employees of Alameda that Bankman-Fried had given her the go-ahead to use funds for the purposes mentioned above.
In December 2022, Ellison and former FTX chief technology officer Gary Wang pleaded guilty to their alleged roles in the fraud that led to the collapse of the exchange.
Shortly after both pleaded guilty, on Dec. 22, they were hit with additional fraud charges by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The SEC alleged that Ellison furthered the fraud scheme by manipulating the FTX Token (FTT) price.
Ellison then agreed to a plea deal with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which meant full disclosure of information and documents demanded by prosecutors during the trial. In exchange, Ellison was able to evade all major charges against her, including a potential 110-year prison sentence.
Shortly after, she revealed that she had been aware of FTX customer funds being used, saying that Alameda had access to a “borrowing facility” through FTX from 2019 to 2022.
The U.S. Department of Justice said that Ellison’s personal memos, which include diary entries, will most likely be used as evidence against Bankman-Fried.
SBF faces charges of seven counts of conspiracy and fraud tied to the collapse of FTX, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Cointelegraph reporters are on the ground in New York covering the trial. As the saga unfolds, check here for the latest updates.