Crypto Exchange Trial: Witness Accounts
Marc-Antoine Julliard, a cocoa beans trader residing in London, found himself in a challenging predicament after losing a significant sum of $100,000 due to the unfortunate demise of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. His ordeal marked the beginning of the trial for the exchange’s founder and former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).
As detailed in a report by CNBC, Julliard ventured into the realm of crypto trading by opting for FTX in 2021, seeking to diversify his investment portfolio. He maintained a cautious trading approach until the platform's abrupt collapse in November 2022.
The First Witness for the Prosecution
Julliard vividly recounted the day when he attempted to withdraw a portion of his crypto assets valued at $100,000 from FTX. Regrettably, his efforts were in vain, and he, along with numerous other customers, was left in a state of uncertainty as the company filed for bankruptcy. He clarified that he refrained from participating in FTX's lending, borrowing, or margin trading programs, which allowed users to accumulate interest on their holdings.
The commodities broker initially trusted FTX due to its perceived financial stability. Like many others, he was drawn to the company through their promotional efforts and widespread media coverage. Julliard elaborated that his decision to stick with FTX was reinforced by the company's affiliations with venture funds and notable personalities, such as supermodel Gisele Bündchen and the international automobile racing brand Formula 1.
Julliard's testimony played a pivotal role in the prosecution team's opening statement, shedding light on FTX customers' false sense of security regarding their assets while SBF and his associates allegedly misused the funds.
Defense Counsel Disputes Allegations Against SBF
The second witness for the prosecution, Adam Yedidia, shared a history with SBF from their time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Initially employed as a trader at Alameda Research, FTX’s sister trading firm, in 2017 for a brief two-month period, he transitioned into a software engineer role at FTX in January 2021.
Yedidia revealed that he left the exchange after discovering, on the eve of its bankruptcy filing, that Alameda had utilized customer deposits from FTX to settle debts with creditors.
Despite not being in contact with SBF since November, Yedidia expressed his concern about inadvertently contributing to the alleged crime as a developer. The prosecutors are set to continue their questioning of him during the trial on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Mark Cohen, SBF’s attorney, vehemently contended that his client had not engaged in fraudulent activities and argued that customers should be held accountable for their decisions to purchase and hold crypto.