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Friday, December 8, 2023

Sam Bankman-Fried was a horrible boyfriend

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I’ve bought some shitty ex-boyfriends, however none of them made me the CEO of their sin-eater hedge fund whereas refusing to offer me fairness and bragging about how there was a 5 p.c probability they’d turn out to be the President of the USA, you already know? Completely counting my blessings after Caroline Ellison’s first day on the stand. I’m wondering how lots of the 9 girls on the jury are doing the identical.

Ellison was the top of Alameda Analysis, the aforementioned hedge fund, throughout the implosion of it and FTX. She’s already pleaded responsible to felony expenses stemming from one of many worst romantic relationships I’ve ever heard of, and her testimony was extensively anticipated earlier than the trial. Immediately, that took the type of discussing a damning spreadsheet — one she ready for her ex and boss Sam Bankman-Fried, now the defendant in a felony fraud trial. 

The day began off promisingly for the protection because it cross-examined Gary Wang, the chief expertise officer of FTX and co-owner of each FTX and Alameda. Christian Everdell, one among Bankman-Fried’s protection attorneys, couldn’t undo the harm of last week’s code review. However he managed to shake the rust off lengthy sufficient to make Wang sound much less dependable, drowning the jury in complicated technicalities.

Final week Wang testified that Alameda bought entry to a particular credit score line and an choice to take its stability into the damaging with out triggering liquidation — one thing he alleged different accounts at FTX didn’t get. Everdell tried to undermine this declare by speaking in regards to the spot margin program, which let customers lend one another belongings for margin buying and selling. In these {cases}, it was attainable to have a damaging stability in a selected coin. It was not, nevertheless, attainable for these accounts to keep away from liquidation, as Wang testified Alameda might do — or to have an total damaging stability. However I’m betting the protection is hoping the jurors will throw up their arms in confusion desirous about this.

“We in the end took about $14 billion, a few of which we weren’t in a position to pay again.”

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Wang didn’t precisely assist himself out, both. Apparently, what Wang mentioned in court docket contradicted one thing he’d mentioned in earlier interviews with the federal government about market making. I say “apparently” as a result of Everdell was in all probability giving him his earlier testimony to refresh his recollection, however Wang was insisting he didn’t bear in mind. In any occasion no matter Wang was proven wasn’t submitted as proof or proven to the court docket. I bought the gist, although, and I guess the jury did too — in all probability the strongest work the protection has executed to date.

However by the tip of the day, that every one appeared like a sideshow. Bankman-Fried had been vibrating barely throughout Wang’s testimony. Throughout Ellison’s testimony, his bouncing turned extra noticeable.

Ellison was hunched in on herself as she walked into the courtroom, sporting a dusty rose gown with a grey blazer over it, wanting much less like an govt than like a woman who’s borrowed her boyfriend’s coat as a result of she’s chilly. When the prosecution requested her to establish Bankman-Fried, she had bother discovering him and gazed across the courtroom for greater than 20 seconds — apparently he was incognito together with his new haircut. After she did spot him, she was requested to establish him, which she did by figuring out him as sporting a swimsuit. This bought chuckles from the remainder of the protection desk, additionally all in fits. 

She listed off the crimes she’d already pleaded responsible to, and added that Bankman-Fried “directed me to commit these crimes,” Ellison mentioned. (Fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and cash laundering, in case you have been questioning.) “We in the end took about $14 billion, a few of which we weren’t in a position to pay again.” She tilted her head right down to reply the questions, then lifted her head when she’d completed her reply.

Bankman-Fried referred to as this being “risk-neutral,” which looks as if a flowery approach of claiming he was a playing addict

In Ellison’s telling, Alameda was troubled from her earliest time there in 2018. “Shortly after I began, I discovered the corporate was in worse form than I noticed,” Ellison mentioned. Alameda had initially been funded with loans “from acquaintances,” she mentioned, and people loans have been recalled a number of weeks after she arrived. (There was a employees revolt inside Alameda Analysis, over misplaced hundreds of thousands and basic monetary chaos, according to Michael Lewis’s Going Infinite.) Ellison requested Bankman-Fried why he hadn’t shared the corporate’s shaky circumstances within the job supply. “He hadn’t identified tips on how to inform me,” she mentioned.

Ellison was additionally, after all, in a extra private relationship with Bankman-Fried. (A  juror who’d been asleep for a dialogue of the FTT token awakened when she began discussing it.) The 2 began sleeping collectively within the fall of 2018, on and off. On the time, she was a dealer and Bankman-Fried was the CEO. They didn’t date till later — twice. Their first relationship stretched from the summer time of 2020 by way of the summer time of 2021; they agreed to maintain it secret. (Some individuals discovered, as they normally do.) The second time, from the autumn of 2021 till the spring of 2022, they lived collectively. 

That gave Ellison an uncommon view of his character. “He was very formidable,” she mentioned. In addition to telling her about his presidential probabilities, he additionally advised her that if there was a coin flip the place tails destroyed the world and heads made the world twice pretty much as good, he’d flip the coin. He referred to as this being “risk-neutral,” which looks as if a flowery approach of claiming he was a playing addict.

She was named co-CEO of Alameda with Sam Trabucco in 2021, whereas she and Bankman-Fried have been damaged up, and CEO in 2022. The aim, Bankman-Fried advised her, was to “optically” separate Alameda Analysis and FTX. “The entire time we have been relationship, he was my boss at work,” she mentioned. They broke up as a result of she needed extra from the connection; Bankman-Fried was distant and never paying sufficient consideration to her.

Utilizing the successfully limitless funds “allowed us to make worthwhile trades we couldn’t have made in any other case.”

Bankman-Fried didn’t grant Ellison fairness, regardless that she requested; he advised her it might be too difficult. As a substitute, she bought a $200,000 wage, whilst CEO, and bonuses twice a yr, which ranged from $100,000 to $20 million.

Initially, Alameda and FTX have been “very built-in,” Ellison mentioned. They have been run by the identical group, from the identical workplace. And when Alameda was scrounging for funds, Bankman-Fried advised Ellison that FTX could be an excellent supply of capital. The $65 billion line of credit score Alameda Analysis had meant that it didn’t need to put up collateral. There was no contract, and no written phrases, she testified. It additionally wasn’t seen to FTX’s auditors — she’d raised the query with Bankman-Fried and he advised her to not fear about it.  

Alameda’s credit score line  — which was taken in increments of $100,000 to $10 million at a time — was used for buying and selling. Utilizing the successfully limitless funds “allowed us to make worthwhile trades we couldn’t have made in any other case,” Ellison testified.

Buyer funds have been additionally used when Bankman-Fried purchased again FTX shares from Binance, an early investor, in the summertime of 2021. Bankman-Fried advised Ellison it was “actually essential,” in any other case “Binance would do issues to mess with FTX.” Ellison says she advised him Alameda didn’t have the cash. So Bankman-Fried took $1 billion of FTX buyer funds to purchase out Binance, the primary time Ellison recalled an quantity that enormous. It was Bankman-Fried’s resolution, she mentioned, as he was the CEO of FTX.

FTT was one among a number of “Sam cash”

There was additionally the FTT token, which was created by Bankman-Fried and Wang. Alameda bought its conflict chest — 60 p.c to 70 p.c of the preliminary provide — without cost, whereas seed traders bought FTT at 10 cents a coin, and FTT first listed at $1 a coin. Bankman-Fried felt that $1 per coin was psychologically essential, Ellison mentioned, and that he directed her to purchase up FTT utilizing Alameda if its worth fell beneath a greenback. 

FTT was one among a number of “Sam cash,” a nickname for tokens which Bankman-Fried was closely concerned in and owned quite a lot of, both personally or by way of Alameda. These cash have been nearly actually price lower than the worth displayed on the stability sheet, as a result of making an attempt to promote them suddenly would crater the costs. Bankman-Fried directed her to place these cash on the stability sheets Alameda confirmed to lenders, regardless that she felt it was “considerably deceptive.”

Alameda was additionally getting loans from outdoors lenders, reminiscent of Genesis, as a result of when FTX began, there weren’t quite a lot of buyer funds to borrow, Ellison testified. That was the idea of the worst of her testimony — and the spreadsheet from hell.

Ellison mentioned she’d ready the spreadsheet at Bankman-Fried’s request within the fall of 2021 and shared it with him. The purpose was danger evaluation round paying again Alameda’s loans in the event that they have been abruptly recalled by Genesis, their lender. Bankman-Fried needed to make use of $3 billion for enterprise investments, so Ellison was ballparking what that may do to Alameda’s danger. Within the as-is situation, if issues went south, she figured there was a 30 p.c probability they wouldn’t be capable of meet the mortgage recollects. If Bankman-Fried used $3 billion to make investments, there was a one hundred pc probability they couldn’t meet the recollects, even with FTX buyer funds.

Echoing Bankman-Fried and Ellison’s romantic relationship, FTX was maintaining cozy personal ties with Alameda but publicly holding it at arm’s size

The issue right here wasn’t actually the mathematics, which appeared fairly arbitrary. It was that Ellison’s calculations assumed Alameda might borrow $1.8 billion in regular {dollars} and $1.5 billion in crypto from FTX. The spreadsheet makes this clear with a row labeled “FTX borrows,” which Ellison mentioned have been buyer funds.

In the meantime, echoing Bankman-Fried and Ellison’s romantic relationship, FTX was maintaining cozy personal ties with Alameda but publicly holding it at arm’s size. On January 14, 2022, Bankman-Fried tweeted, “We’re launching a $2b enterprise fund: FTX Ventures!” These funds got here from Alameda, Ellison testified. However Bankman-Fried didn’t wish to go public with the supply of the funds. He mentioned he thought Alameda’s model was much less good, and he didn’t need his title related to it. Alameda additionally purchased Robinhood shares for Bankman-Fried, who moved them to a car referred to as “Emergent Constancy Applied sciences” to keep away from affiliation with Alameda. 

The day ended with a doc that had been shared between Ellison and Bankman-Fried — together with his feedback showing in bubbles alongside the primary textual content. Ellison wrote she was anxious about “each precise leverage and presenting on our stability sheet.” Bankman-Fried responded with a notice: “Yup, and will additionally worsen.”

Issues did, certainly, worsen.

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