Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, plans to testify at his criminal fraud trial in Manhattan, his attorney said Wednesday.
Attorney Mark Cohen said Mr. Bankman confirmed Fried’s plans, which came on the last day of a nearly week-long break in the hearing. 31 year old Mr. Bankman-Fried will begin testifying Thursday.
“Our client is going to testify,” said Mr. Cohen told the inquest.
Mr. Bankman-Fried was accused of orchestrating a sweeping scheme to steal up to $10 billion in deposits from FTX’s customers. Prosecutors say the cryptocurrency mogul funneled the money to political contributions, real estate purchases and other lavish expenses.
Mr. Bankman-Fried agreed. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
During the first three weeks of the trial, prosecutors said Mr. Bankman-Fried’s close friends and colleagues have called for a parade of witnesses who testified that the FTX founder lied to clients, investors and lenders about transferring client money.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Mr. Mr. Bankman said the defense planned to call three additional witnesses. Cohen said. One financial services consultant, Joseph Pimple, is expected to testify about the finances of crypto trading firm FTX and Alameda Research, which borrowed billions of dollars from FTX clients. Mr. Bankman-Fried founded Alameda before starting FTX.
Mr. Cohen, Mr. Bankman-Fried plans to call a Bahamian lawyer involved in the case and an expert in protecting corporate records.
Mr. Bankman-Fried is expected to testify after those witnesses.
A few weeks after the FTX outbreak in November, Mr. Bankman-Fried was arrested at her penthouse apartment in the Bahamas. He was later extradited to the United States and placed under house arrest at his parents’ home in Northern California. In August, his bail was revoked after a judge ruled he had tried to intimidate witnesses.
During the investigation, Mr. Bankman-Fried has been spending her nights in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where her attorneys say she has been constantly accessing computer files she needs to prepare for trial. In August, prosecutors said Mr Bankman-Fried, a vegetarian, consumed bread, water and peanut butter.
Mr. Bankman-Fried appeared in court every day of the trial, which began this month, wearing a suit bought from the discount rack at Macy’s. His parents, Stanford law professors Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, watched from the gallery along with other powerful legal figures, including Damian Williams, a top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.