And so it happened that on the fifth day of Sam Bankman-Fried’s historic fraud trial, the prosecution rolled in their ‘star witness’, 28-year-old Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research.
Ellison named the FTX founder as the ringleader of a $10bn fraud scheme at the cryptocurrency exchange and its associated hedge fund, and testified that she committed fraud at his direction.
The Guardian reported:
“’While you were working at Alameda, did you commit any crimes?’ a prosecutor asked Caroline Ellison. ‘Yes, we did’, she said. ‘[Bankman-Fried] directed me to commit these crimes’.”
She is the former girlfriend and business partner of SBF, and also serving as CEO of the hedge fund Alameda Research.
“During Ellison’s testimony, the prosecutor Danielle Sassoon questioned the former Alameda CEO over her relationship with Bankman-Fried and how their actions led to the collapse of FTX. She blamed Bankman-Fried for financial crimes at the company, alleging that he had ordered her to commit fraud and conspiracy.”
Prosecutors painted Bankman-Fried as the mastermind behind the operations at the companies.
Ellison further stated that he was the responsible for setting up the system that allowed Alameda to borrow from FTX.
“A bit later, Sassoon asked: ‘Around how much FTX customer money did Alameda use to repay its lenders?’ ‘Uh, in the ballpark of $10bn’, Ellison replied.”
Ellison was only in her second full-time job, and shortly after Bankman-Fried hired her at Alameda, she learned that the company was in worse financial shape than he had let on.
“Ellison cut a deal with federal prosecutors in late 2022, pleading guilty to wire fraud and multiple financial conspiracy charges. Federal lawyers implied in the trial’s opening statements that her cooperation with them has been extensive. Ellison said in plea proceedings that she had ‘agreed with Mr Bankman-Fried and others to provide materially misleading financial statements to Alameda’s lenders’. Bankman-Fried faces seven counts of fraud and conspiracy charges in the trial. He has pleaded not guilty.”
SBF’s defense will paint Ellison as a scorned lover and an incompetent businesswoman.
The disgraced crypto bro himself leaked documents about her to the press, leading Judge Lewis Kaplan to revoke his bail and send him to prison, finding probable cause for allegations of witness tampering.
While his lawyers call him “a math nerd who didn’t drink or party”, the prosecutionshows him as a greedy manipulator who lured his business associates for his own financial gain, resulting in more than $10bn in fraud.
Daily Mail reported:
“The ex-girlfriend of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried told a jury today that he donated $10million to Joe Biden’s campaign to gain ‘influence’.
Assistant US Attorney Danielle Sasson asked Caroline Ellison what Bankman-Fried said about spending money on politics.
Ellison said: ‘He thought it was very effective, you could get very high returns in terms of influence by spending relatively small amounts of money’.”
“‘I sent balance sheets at the direction of Sam that made Alameda’s balances look less risky to investors’, she said, also testifying Alameda had taken funds from FTX to make its own investments.”
Ellison cooperates with the government since December, when she pled guilty to financial crimes stemming from her time at Alameda.
Ellison also talked about the ‘unlimited’ Alameda line of credit at FTX. She said Bankman-Fried ‘was the one who set up these systems’.
Ellison explained about Alameda’s borrowing of FTX customers’ funds.
“Bankman-Fried ‘said to use FTX funds but to keep money on FTX’ to meet customer withdrawal requests, she said. A lot of this money went to loans made to members of FTX’s inner circle, with funds going toward ‘investments and political donations’, Ellison said.”
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