Intimidation, Laughter and Chinese Bribes – SBF Did Not Think Law Applies to Him: Trial Update

By Aaron Feuerstein October 13, 2023 In FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried
Source: Adobe Stock


  • Bankman-Fried trial continues with more telling details revealed.
  • The trial reveals that SBF thought rules don’t apply to him.
  • The prosecutor compared his behaviour in court to intimidation.

The crypto trial, which some may hope to end sooner rather than later, while others eagerly await every detail, is only in its second week, yet it continues to unveil surprising revelations.

With four more weeks to go, it was Caroline Ellison’s day in court again to testify against her ex-lover Sam Bankman-Fried. The former CEO of FTX faces several fraud-related charges over the collapse of the defunct crypto exchange.

Don’t Lie – Don’t Steal

Bankman-Fried is a self-proclaimed utilitarian and a disciple of effective altruism, who, according to Ellison, thought rules didn’t apply to him. Ellison, SBF’s ex-lover, has admitted to fraud and entered a plea deal with prosecutors.

During her first hearing, Ellison said Bankman-Fried instructed her to falsify Alameda’s financial statement and prepare several versions so he could pick one he liked.


It appears Bankman-Fried was using customer funds for his own goals, including wanting to be U.S. President. Ellison stated SBF told employees to be wary about paper trails and cover their traces, she said he directed staff to,

be careful with what we put in writing, and not put into writing something that could get us into legal trouble.

Caroline Ellison

Chinese Bribes and The Involvement of a U.S. Citizen

Matthew Russell Lee from Inner City Press reported that during Ellison’s testimony about the Chinese bribery, Sam Trabuco, her co-CEO at Alameda was repeatedly mentioned. Trabuco appears to have been directly implicated in an alleged violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This raises the question why no charges have been laid.

Lee reiterated, “An American citizen has been officially named in federal court, known by SDNY prosecutors, for involvement in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation related to China and US $100 million ($158 million) in bribery funds.”

Bankman-Fried Just Laughed It Off

Meanwhile, the man standing for trial, Sam Bankman-Fried, could not help himself but find it all a bit amusing. While Ellisons was giving her testimony Bankman-Fried was seen shaking his head and scoffing in disapproval.

The prosecutor believed that may have been an attempt to intimidate Bankman-Fried’s former lover:

“Your Honor, given where I’m standing, I’ve noticed several times […], the defendant has laughed, visibly shaken his head, and scoffed, […] it’s possible it’s having a visible effect on her, especially given the history of this relationship, the prior attempts to intimidate her, the power dynamic, their romantic relationship, and I would ask that defence counsel tell him to control his visible reactions to her testimony.”

Aaron Feuerstein

Aaron Feuerstein

Aaron Feuerstein is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. His focus is on decentralised finance and the regulatory space surrounding blockchain. He holds a Master's in Accounting. When he is not studying the latest legal case, he enjoys his time as a modest but eager hobby cook.

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