Sam Bankman-Fried Slated by Defense Lawyer

Reading Time: 2 minutes
  • Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyer, David Mills, has labeled him as potentially “the worst person” he has ever seen cross-examined
  • Mills told Bloomberg he had pushed for a policy of culpability, but this was overruled
  • He added that Bankman-Fried’s performance on the stand would have eviscerated the approach anyway

Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyer, David Mills, has said that the FTX co-founder may have been “the worst person I’ve ever seen do a cross examination.” In an interview with Bloomberg, Mills said that the case became “almost impossible” to win after three of the four other CEOs at FTX and Alameda Research all gave evidence against him. Mills revealed he had pushed for a strategy of blanket admission through a prism of trying to do the best for the company, but Bankman-Fried’s disastrous testimony killed that strategy dead.

Bankman-Fried Undermined His Own Defense

Bankman-Fried’s time on the witness stand during his trial in October was the moment that everyone interested in the case had been waiting for, and it was then that any chance he had fell apart; the disgraced CEO disputed prosecutors’ phrasings and claimed memory lapses, appeared evasive during cross-examination, and was frequently presented with written evidence of comments he denied making.

Mills told Bloomberg how he had suggested a strategy where Bankman-Fried admitted to all the charges but framed his actions as part of a good-faith effort to save FTX and customer funds. However, he was overruled, and, he says, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway:

That’s not how Sam remembers things, to put it kindly. I thought there was a really good story there. But he can’t tell the story that all these people are lying. You got five people who say one thing, one person says another thing. Well, you’ve got no shot—zero.

Mills added that he knew his client was in serious trouble when he found out that Alameda Chief Executive Officer Caroline Ellison, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, and FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh were also going to testify against him:

I thought it was almost impossible to win a case when three or four founders are all saying you did it. Even if they’re all lying through their teeth, it’s really, really hard to win a case like that.

It proved to be just that, with Bankman-Fried not able to convince the jury about any element of his defense, which was almost all flat-out denials with little to no proof to back them up. Such was Mills’ confidence in the outcome that he didn’t even attend the court when the jury brought in its guilty verdict.

Bankman-Fried will be sentenced in March 2024, where he is expected to face decades in prison.