NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Reuters) – In his opening assertion at Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial on Wednesday, the FTX cryptocurrency alternate founder’s lawyer acknowledged that his shopper was in a dangerous enterprise, noting that “crypto was not for everybody.”
However FTX had asserted the alternative in a web based put up a few automotive race it sponsored in Miami Seashore, Florida, six months earlier than its November 2022 collapse.
Crypto is for everybody, as needs to be motor sports activities,” FTX posted on Might 13, 2022 on its official account on Twitter, alongside a video displaying racing automobiles, bartenders pouring cocktails, and retired basketball star Shaquille O’Neal giving high-fives.
At Bankman-Fried’s trial on Wednesday, prosecutors performed for the jury FTX video commercials wherein a narrator stated, “we’re inviting everybody in,” in addition to spots that includes NFL quarterback Tom Brady and comic Larry David.
Bankman-Fried, 31, has pleaded not responsible to 2 counts of fraud and 5 counts of conspiracy over the collapse of FTX. Prosecutors stated in opening statements on Wednesday that he stole $10 billion in customer funds to purchase luxurious actual property, donate to U.S. political candidates and plug losses at his hedge fund.
FTX’s advertising and marketing to retail buyers to attempt to broaden the attraction of cryptocurrency, as soon as a distinct segment asset class, could possibly be a key difficulty within the trial.
Prosecutor Thane Rehn said FTX’s commercials promoted the alternate as reliable – even whereas Bankman-Fried was allegedly stealing deposits. Rehn stated the recruitment of further clients helped FTX meet calls for from others to withdraw their cash, masking the theft for a time.
Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, stated his shopper by no means supposed to steal funds. His opening assertion portrayed Bankman-Fried as an formidable entrepreneur who “missed” key enterprise features like danger administration as FTX grew quickly throughout a growth within the values of digital property.
“You’ll study that crypto was not for everybody. On the one hand it was new and thrilling,” Cohen stated, addressing the jury. “However however, many elements that no person managed may make crypto go up and down in worth. So too crypto firms themselves may rise and fall in a short time.”
Cohen additionally stated, “it is not against the law to attempt to get Tom Brady to return on adverts to your firm.”
A spokesman for Bankman-Fried didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
The video concerning the automotive race, dubbed FTX Off the Grid, harks again to the growth instances in crypto earlier than rising rates of interest led to a sell-off in tokens like bitcoin. It reveals ladies in swimsuits posing on a seaside with a mascot for the Miami Warmth basketball workforce and a crowd dancing at a live performance that includes smoke and flashing lights.
FTX’s superstar promoters together with O’Neal, Brady and David were sued over claims they engaged in misleading practices. The celebrities have stated the lawsuit needs to be dismissed, arguing they didn’t trigger FTX buyers’ losses.
Reporting by Luc Cohen and Jody Godoy in New York
Enhancing by Amy Stevens and Matthew Lewis
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