Speaking in his own defense at his criminal trial, the FTX founder denied he had committed fraud but acknowledged missteps that hurt the cryptocurrency exchange’s customers.
Against the advice of his defense lawyers, Mr. Bankman-Fried embarked on a lengthy press tour to explain the failure of his FTX cryptocurrency exchange, giving interviews to TV anchors and obscure Twitter personalities. After he was charged with fraud and placed under house arrest, he invited reporters to visit him so he could continue defending his actions.
On Friday, Mr. Bankman-Fried, 31, made an even riskier call: He took the stand to testify at his criminal fraud trial in federal court in New York.
Over five and a half hours of testimony, Mr. Bankman-Fried denied that he had committed fraud or stolen from FTX’s customers, while emphasizing his efforts to make the exchange successful. But he also acknowledged that he had made mistakes, citing “significant oversights” that hurt FTX’s customers.
Wearing a gray suit and purple tie, with his famously tousled hair cut short by a fellow inmate at the jail where he is detained, Mr. Bankman-Fried said he had “made a number of small mistakes, and a number of larger mistakes.”
FTX was supposed to “move the ecosystem forward,” he testified. “It turned out the opposite of that.”
Mr. Bankman-Fried’s testimony was the most anticipated moment of a trial that has become a referendum on the excesses of the once-highflying crypto industry. The entrepreneur, who positioned himself as the face of the industry when the prices of digital coins like Bitcoin and Ether were surging, emerged last year as a cautionary tale of the unfettered hubris and risk-taking that cost customers billions of dollars when the crypto market crashed.
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