Remarkably, Stanford Law School professor David Mills, Sam Bankman-defense Fried’s lawyer, has publicly stated that his client is possibly the worst person he has ever seen being cross-examined. The 31-year-old co-founder of FTX, Bankman-Fried, recently suffered a setback in his legal career after being found guilty on seven counts of conspiracy and fraud. He was accused by the prosecution of masterminding a fraudulent plan at FTX that transferred clients’ money to his cryptocurrency trading company, Alameda Research.
Mills, who represented Bankman-Fried as a favor to the co-founder’s parents, who are close friends and colleagues at Stanford, spoke candidly about the challenges he faced during the trial. In a Bloomberg interview, he remarked, “He may be at the very top of the list as the worst person I’ve ever seen do a cross examination.”
During the trial, Bankman-Fried’s cross-examination proved problematic as he frequently provided meandering answers, frustrating the judge and apologizing multiple times for his rambling responses. At one point, he even employed a mocking tone to take a dig at the prosecution.
The defense’s struggles were compounded by the damaging testimonies of three key figures in the FTX saga – Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, and FTX engineering director Nishad Singh – who all testified for the prosecution, implicating Bankman-Fried as the mastermind of the alleged fraudulent scheme.
Mills expressed the difficulty of defending a case where multiple founders accuse the defendant, stating, “Even if they’re all lying through their teeth, it’s really, really hard to win a case like that.” He added that finding legal representation for Bankman-Fried was initially challenging, describing his client as “the most hated person on earth but not Donald Trump.”
Bankman-Fried is set to be sentenced on March 28, 2024, facing a maximum sentence of 115 years. The trial’s outcome raises questions about the accountability of prominent figures in the crypto industry and the challenges faced by their defense teams in the face of damning testimonies.