Former crypto tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried has admitted making “mistakes” in the way he ran his collapsed FTX exchange – but has told a court he did not steal from his customers.
The 31-year-old also admitted that “a lot of people were hurt” when the company collapsed, as he gave evidence in open court for the first time in his fraud case.
The Bankman-Fried Trial started earlier this month with accusations he stole more than $10 billion (£8.2 billion) from FTX customers.
He had already appeared in court on Thursday, but without the presence of the jurywhile the judge in the case decided which parts of his testimony would be admissible.
Bankman-Fried told the court on Friday that he had made “a number of minor errors and a number of larger errors” in running the stock exchange, but said there was never intended to defraud or steal from anyone.
He said the biggest mistake was not setting up a dedicated risk management team.
Questioned by his own lawyer, the entrepreneur added: “We thought maybe we could create the best product on the market. Which turned out to be basically the opposite of that.
“A lot of people were hurt – customers, employees – and the company ended up in bankruptcy.”
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Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy and faces 115 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors say he used client funds to make risky bets at sister trading company Alameda Research – with a huge black hole in the company’s finances appearing when crypto markets suffered a sharp slowdown.
The trading platform abruptly stopped withdrawals last November and subsequently went bankrupt.
FTX was once the world’s second-largest exchange and Bankman-Fried was worth $32bn (£26bn) on paper.
He was known for rubbing shoulders with A-list celebrities and advising US politicians on how the industry should be regulated – as well as for his big curly hair. In the United States, commenters even noted that he recently got a new, shorter haircut.
The prosecution will cross-examine Bankman-Fried later. The affair continues.