Judge to Sam Bankman-Fried: 'Just Answer the Question'

FTX founder is 'vague,' 'curt' under cross-examination
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2023 1:30 AM CDT
Judge to Sam Bankman-Fried: 'Just Answer the Question'
In this courtroom sketch, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, right, is cross examined by Assistant US Attorney Danielle Sassoon, left, while Judge Lewis Kaplan listens, center, in Manhattan federal court, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

The cross-examination of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, began Monday; it was SBF's second day on the stand after testifying in his own defense Friday. On that day, some of his answers were so lengthy and meandering the judge asked him to stop talking. On Monday, however, many of his answers were either simply "yep" or "no" or the slightly lengthier "I'm not sure" or "I can't recall." The New York Times uses the word "curt" to describe his answers; CNN uses "vague." The Wall Street Journal, however, notes the judge still had to intervene at times.

After telling a prosecutor multiple times, for instance, that he didn't know what she was referring to when she asked him repeatedly whether he tried to access an FTX database after the company's bankruptcy filing, the judge said, "Look, could you just answer the question instead of trying to ask the questioner what she is referring to?" Multiple outlets refer to the fact that the prosecution used SBF's own words against him, projecting on a display statements he made publicly that contradicted actions he allegedly took privately. One example: He was questioned about insisting in interviews prior to FTX's collapse that Alameda Research, a hedge fund he founded, didn't have any special privileges as a customer trading on FTX only to, after the exchange's failure, acknowledge it did in fact have special privileges.

Even so, SBF didn't actually concede much, claiming repeatedly that he couldn't remember various things he'd once supposedly told reporters about Alameda and FTX and adding that he "disagreed with basically every article written about me" after the exchange collapsed. But, asked by the prosecutor, "Do you deny that Alameda could withdraw billions of dollars from the FTX exchange using a line of credit without being subject to the auto liquidation protocol?" he acknowledged, "That might be right," and said he didn't deny it. Prosecutors also brought up private messages in which SBF allegedly said "F--- regulators" and called some crypto customers "dumb m-----f-----s." (The Hill and Axios have more takeaways.) Bankman-Fried is expected to return to the stand Tuesday and closing arguments could begin Thursday. (More Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

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