The Sam Bankman-Fried trial resumed Monday with more prosecution witnesses, including Nishad Singh, the former director of engineering at FTX.
(Bloomberg) — The Sam Bankman-Fried trial resumed Monday with more prosecution witnesses, including Nishad Singh, the former director of engineering at FTX.
Like previous witnesses, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, Singh has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy counts and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Singh is another witness with close ties to Bankman-Fried. He was a childhood friend of Bankman-Fried’s younger brother, Gabriel, and lived with Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas.
Here are a few stories to catch up on the trial last week:
SBF’s Friends Force Him Into ‘Hail Mary’ Choice on Testimony
Group Chats, Tweets and Audio Tape: The Evidence Against SBF
Caroline Ellison Says ‘Sam Was the One’ Who Caused FTX Collapse
The Key Players at Sam Bankman-Fried’s Historic Fraud Trial
Here’s the latest from court (all times are NY):
SBF Lawyers Revisit Access to Adderall (5:30 p.m.)
After the jury was sent home, Mark Cohen, one of Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, again raised the issue of his client’s access to Adderall, the drug prescribed to treat his ADHD and depression.
Bankman-Fried’s team said in a letter late last night that he may not be able to “meaningfully participate” in his own defense because he hadn’t been receiving his full dose of Adderall.
Bankman-Fried has continually raised this issue since Kaplan revoked his bail in August.
“As we approach the defense case and the critical decision of whether Mr. Bankman-Fried will testify,” Cohen said in the letter, “the defense has a growing concern that because of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lack of access to Adderall he has not been able to concentrate at the level he ordinarily would and that he will not be able to meaningfully participate in the presentation of the defense case.”
Read More: SBF Lawyers Say FTX Co-Founder May Need Adderall to Testify (2)
Kaplan rejected two solutions proposed by Cohen, a half-day delay to work out the issue and the possibility that Bankman-Fried’s legal team could bring his medication to court for him.
The judge said he hadn’t been given information from a doctor on the issue since August and that he’s “not professionally competent” to make medication decisions or allow lawyers to administer drugs.
“I can’t write the prescription,” he said.
The judge also said he hadn’t observed a problem with Bankman-Fried and is “inclined to push ahead” with the trial.
Bankman-Fried was paying close attention to the discussion, but appeared dejected when the judge denied the request.
His lawyers will begin cross-examination of Singh in the morning.
Singh Describes ‘Crazy, Blame Game’ in Final Days (5:15 p.m.)
Singh said that in the days leading up to FTX’s demise “there was a crazy, blame game going on and people were not being productive.”
Singh says he spoke to Daniel Friedberg, FTX’s former chief regulatory officer, and that he was mad about Alameda’s borrowing.
The attorney, who he described as FTX’s “chief legal decision maker,” blamed Singh, Bankman-Fried and Wang for the company’s problems.
Singh testifies that the accusations left him in “severe emotional distress” and that he “had been suicidal for some days.”
Because of this, Singh testified that he asked Bankman-Fried to clarify everyone’s role in the fraud scheme, saying he wanted it made clear that he’d only been aware of the misuse of customer funds since September 2022. Singh said he wanted Bankman-Fried to take the blame for orchestrating everything.
FTX Bahamas, US Arms More Intertwined Than Suggested (4:45 p.m.)
At times, Bankman-Fried, Wang and Singh would receive loans from Alameda that would be used to fund investments and acquisitions for FTX’s US unit. Singh testified that they would work with company lawyers to set the transactions up.
The testimony suggests that the Bahamas-based company and US arm were more intertwined than what was suggested publicly and that money for the latter’s investments may have come from customer funds.
Political Donations Made for ‘Advantageous Optics’ (4:00 p.m.)
Singh said that a lot of the money for FTX-related political donations went through his accounts.
He said that funds were often taken from Alameda’s account, and then would be wired to Singh’s Prime Trust account. From there, Ryan Salame, the former CEO of FTX’s Bahamian unit, had access to the account to make donations and the contributions would be made in Singh’s name.
Salame has pleaded guilty to one campaign finance violation and one charge of operating an illegal money-transmitting business.
Similarly, Singh would sign blank checks for Gabriel Bankman-Fried, Sam Bankman-Fried’s younger brother, who was head of a political action committee called Guarding Against Pandemics, which also made political donations.
Singh said he wasn’t comfortable with his name being used for political donations and tried to find someone who could replace him in that capacity.
But he said donations were made in his name for “advantageous optics.”
Singh was friends with Gabriel Bankman-Fried before joining FTX. The younger Bankman-Fried hasn’t been charged with a crime.
‘We Came, We Saw, We Researched’ Memo on Alameda (3:30 p.m.)
Singh said, like other witnesses, that there were serious discussions about shutting down Alameda in September 2022.
There was a memo called “We Came, We Saw, We Researched” that looked at the issue.
Singh suggested keeping Alameda open, but shut down Alameda’s account on FTX.
That was first proposed inside a chat with himself, Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison and Bankman-Fried.
But Ellison said, “that’s impossible,” Singh recalled.
Wang said there’s $13 billion that couldn’t be paid back.
Bankman-Fried said that FTX was “short on deliverables” in 24 hours if pressed, $5 billion, “substantially more.”
I said something like “Jesus f’ing Christ.”
“I think this is going to be doing a lot more damage to me,” Singh said. “I understand it’s not productive for me to react emotionally.”
Singh Tried to Stop ‘Crazy’ Spending on Endorsements (3:10 p.m.)
As late as September 2022 as Alameda’s debts piled up, Singh said he was fighting to stop spending on endorsements and other expenses.
Singh said he complained about spending about $1 billion on endorsement deals. “This is crazy, we need to cut this,” Singh said.
But Bankman-Fried “didn’t think these were bad spends,” Singh recalled.
After September, spending was necessarily “digging the customer deficit hole deeper,” Singh said.
Singh Thought About Quitting Company Every Day (2:55 p.m.)
Singh said that he considered leaving the company “every day.”
“I was blindsided and horrified,” he said about FTX and Alameda’s worsening financial condition. “I felt really betrayed.”
He thought he was working five years for something good, but it turned out “so evil.” The only reason he didn’t quit was because he didn’t want to trigger a collapse.
FTX Latest: Judge Seeks Explanation of Blockchain, Crypto Mining (12:40 p.m.)
Judge Lewis Kaplan was unusually active during Singh’s testimony, asking him to simplify technical matters and asking his own questions to amplify the testimony. The judge asked Singh to explain terms including “venture investing,” “blockchain” and “algorithmic failure.”
When the topic turned to crypto mining, the judge again intervened, noting that in his day, mining meant “digging things out of the ground.”
At one point, he asked questions to clarify what Singh knew about the ability of Alameda to borrow FTX customer funds early on.
Kaplan, who was a litigator before being appointed to the bench, nudged the prosecutor, Nicolas Roos, several times for failing to elicit background testimony – or “lay a foundation” – for some of his questions.
The court is taking a lunch break until 2 p.m.
Singh Knew About FTX Customers’ Transfers to Alameda at an Early Stage (12:05 p.m.)
Singh said he knew that FTX was accessing customer funds very early. He described an FTX OTC system that supported transferring FTX customer funds into Alameda’s bank account.
Singh said he was told by Bankman-Fried that the reason was the difficulty for FTX to open a bank account.
The setup allowing FTX customers to deposit funds into Alameda’s bank account in order to trade on FTX was “from FTX’s inception,” Singh said.
Bankman-Fried Attended Star-Studded Dinner in LA (11:40 a.m.)
Singh recalled a star-studded dinner that Bankman-Fried attended in LA at the home of Michael Kives, co-founder of K5 Global investment firm and a former Hillary Clinton aide.
After the dinner, Bankman-Fried was impressed by Kives’s connections and decided to invest in K5.
Singh said he told Bankman-Fried that he was “worried that partnering with K5 and giving them this amount of money would be really toxic to FTX and Alameda culture.” He explained the investment would go against their corporate culture, in which politicking and social climbing shouldn’t be rewarded.
Bankman-Fried went ahead with the K5 investment and subsequently made his way into the celebrities and politicians circle, allowing FTX to gain major endorsement deals.
The prosecutor showed Bankman-Fried’s notes from after the dinner:
“In LA met with Michael Kives and his firm K5. He is, probably, the most connected person I’ve ever met. In attendance at the dinner at his house were:
Hillary Clinton, Doug Emhoff, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Kate Hudson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeff Bezos, Ted Sarandos, Kendall Jenner, Kris Jenner, Corey Gamble, etc.”
Asked to identify each person on the list, Singh quickly pointed out Clinton as a presidential candidate, and Bezos as the chief executive officer of Amazon.
When asked about Kendall Jenner and Kris Jenner, Singh said, “I honestly could not tell you what they do,” prompting laughter.
FTX Seeks $700 Million From Bankman-Fried’s Celebrity Connector
SBF Lashed Out When Confronted About Spending (10:40 a.m.)
Singh described Bankman-Fried’s approach to spending as “excessive.”
When he confronted Bankman-Fried about spending, Singh said the company co-founder lashed out and said people like Singh casting doubts on FTX were the “real insidious problem here.”
“It was pretty humiliating,” Singh said.
In late 2021 and 2022, there was lots of spending on real estate and endorsement deals, Singh said.
From 2021: NBA’s Steph Curry Seals FTX Crypto Pact Similar to Tom Brady’s
Singh Testifies He Was Always ‘Intimidated’ by SBF (10:30 a.m.)
Singh told the court that he had always been intimidated by Bankman-Fried, drawing an objection from defense lawyers, which was overruled.
“Sam is a formidable character, brilliant,” Singh said. “So I had a lot of admiration and respect for him. Over time a lot of that eroded.”
Bankman-Fried stayed focused on his laptop during the exchange.
Singh also said that he had the third-largest equity stake in FTX, had a base salary of $200,000 and collected bonuses of about $1 million each through 2020.
Singh Says He Committed Crimes With SBF, Ellison (10:15 a.m.)
Nishad Singh took the stand, held the microphone, and said “Am I coming through clear? My name is Nishad Singh.”
He quickly said that he committed crimes with Bankman-Fried and other FTX and Alameda officials including Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison and Ryan Salame.
“I defrauded customers, investors,” Singh said, wearing a dark suit and red tie.
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