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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Here’s The First Witness Who Testified Against Sam Bankman-Fried at His Criminal Trial

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Marc-Antoine Julliard, a London-based cocoa beans trader who lost $100,000 to the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was the first witness to testify against the exchange’s founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) at the start of his trial.

According to a CNBC report, Julliard chose FTX in 2021 when he decided to diversify into crypto trading and remained a non-aggressive trader until the platform imploded in November 2022.

The Prosecution’s First Witness

During his testimony, Julliard said he felt “extremely anxious” the day he attempted to withdraw part of the $100,000 worth of crypto he stored on FTX but failed, only to be left in limbo with thousands of other customers when the company filed for bankruptcy. He disclosed that he never participated in any lending, borrowing, or margin trading programs offered by FTX, which allowed users to accrue interest on their assets.

The commodities broker said he believed solid financials backed FTX and, just like other customers, was drawn to the firm through its advertisements and prolific media coverage. Julliard explained that his decision to stick to FTX was bolstered by the company’s attachment to venture funds and celebrities, including supermodel Gisele Bündchen and international automobile racing brand Formula 1.

Julliard helped the prosecution team to lay out the narrative of their opening statement, which explained to the jury that FTX customers were made to believe their assets were safe on the platform while SBF and his co-conspirators misappropriated the funds.

Defense Counsel Says SBF Defrauded No One

Adam Yedidia, who became friends with SBF at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the prosecution’s second witness. He first worked as a trader at FTX’s sister trading firm, Alameda Research, in 2017 for two months, after which he assumed the role of a software engineer at FTX in January 2021.

Yedidia said he left the exchange after a fellow developer revealed a day before it filed for bankruptcy that Alameda had used FTX customer deposits to pay back creditors.

While he had not seen or talked to SBF since November, Yedidia disclosed that he appeared in court because he was concerned that he may have unintentionally written code that contributed to the crime as a developer. Prosecutors will continue questioning him during the trial on Thursday.

Meanwhile, SBF’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, claims that his client did not defraud anyone and is trying to make customers accountable for their choices to buy and hold crypto.

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