I have to admit that, even though I’ve been firmly in the ‘Sam Bankman-Fried is going to prison for a long, long time’ camp since before he was arrested in The Bahamas, I’ve been absolutely glued to the trial. And yesterday, the thing I’ve been waiting and hoping for finally happened: SBF took the stand.
Despite the whole affair coming off like a bad legal thriller or an Ally McBeal episode you didn’t know existed, somehow the 31-year-old alleged fraudster is managing to shock anyone and everyone.
Indeed, the moment we’re all discussing was such an obviously stupid, unrehearsed, law school 101 blunder that even Bankman-Fried’s own attorneys reacted in horror:
And while, thankfully, there were no jurors present for Bankman-Fried’s lapses in judgment, today he’s finally going to sit down and explain the collapse in front of a jury of his peers.
If yesterday is a litmus test, then expect very few questions to be answered, a lot of “I can’t recalls,” and Bankman-Fried desperately trying to blame his lawyers and colleagues for the collapse and failure of FTX and Alameda Research.
Sam’s trapped, confused, and angry
In case anyone is unfamiliar, kamikazes were Japanese pilots in WWII who used their airplanes as weapons to wreak as much havoc as possible on allied naval ships and bases.
Kamikazes have long lived in the American imagination, mostly because of how terrifying the concept is: airplanes filled with fuel, flying toward a boat at high speed, with a martyr to the Japanese crown screaming within.
But because of how horrifying kamikazes look and sound, Americans have exaggerated their usefulness and impact in WWII.
Indeed, most kamikaze missions failed – less than 20% were successful in accomplishing their goals. Nevertheless, the memory of kamikazes lives on, an image of people cultishly devoted to their ruler, despite overwhelming odds, reminding us exactly how scary humans can become when pushed into a corner.
And this is where we find Sam Bankman-Fried. Trapped. No meaningful resistance. Confused and angry.
So, what is a 31-year-old man-child to do? Well, throw a goddamn tantrum, that’s what, and everyone better get out of the way.
SBF’s kamikaze defense will surely cause some collateral damage. Exactly how much is unclear but we do know from Thursday’s testimony that Bankman-Fried attempted to implicate:
- His former lawyers Dan Friedberg and Can Sun (for writing terms of service and having him sign contracts he didn’t read through),
- his former employer Jane Street (stating the firm had a habit of telling its employees to delete chats and use Signal),
- his former friends and colleagues (he mentioned individuals who were in the same BUILDING – not the same room – as him to try to get them implicated in crimes).
Whether any of these dramatic attempts at throwing people under the bus will succeed is unknown, but the one individual it’s sure not to help is the guy on trial: Sam Bankman-Fried will not convince a single juror he’s innocent by taking the stand like he did yesterday.
As a result, the rest of this has become an examination, a study into how effective his kamikaze defense can be, how many individuals he can take with him, and whether he can sink a boat or two before drowning or exploding himself.
There’s surely no saving Sam Bankman-Fried, and it appears as though he finally understands that.