Read the secret Signal messages that could help put SBF behind bars

Sam Bankman-Fried appears at federal court in New York on Oct. 4, 2023, in this courtroom sketch.

Artist: Claudia Johnson

Much of the government’s case against Sam Bankman-Fried hinges on the testimony and text messages from those in his crypto inner circle who turned against him late last year after the implosion of FTX and sister hedge fund Alameda Research.

Of the dozens of items entered into evidence in the first three weeks of the trial, a bank of messages on encrypted app Signal paint perhaps the clearest picture of Bankman-Fried’s alleged crimes.

Bankman-Fried faces seven criminal counts, including wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering, that could land him in prison for life. Bankman-Fried, the son of two Stanford legal scholars, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In trying to prove its case to a Manhattan jury, the government has presented a series of Signal exchanges involving Bankman-Fried; Caroline Ellison, his ex-girlfriend and the ex-CEO of Alameda Research; and former friends and top business execs Gary Wang, Nishad Singh and Ryan Salame. They date back to November 2021.

The messages gave jurors a rare look inside the casual conversations that culminated in a scheme described by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams as “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.”

CNBC is quoting directly from the Signal messages that were entered as evidence and did not make spelling or grammatical changes in them.

Caroline Ellison, former chief executive officer of Alameda Research LLC, center, arrives at court in New York, US, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. 

Yuki Iwamura | Bloomberg | Getty Images

‘Small group chat’

The Signal thread dubbed “small group chat” includes Ellison, Bankman-Fried, and Joe Bankman, the defendant’s father, who advised the company on tax-related issues and other things. Also in the group were Ramnik Arora, a former product lead for FTX; Ryne Miller, who was the company’s general counsel; and Constance Wang, ex-operating chief; as well as Salame, Singh, Wang and four others.

Prosecutors are relying heavily on text messages sent among FTX and Alameda Research executives in the case against Sam Bankman-Fried.

Source: SDNY

The thread begins with two messages from Bankman-Fried posted at 3:47 a.m. on Nov. 7, 2022, the day FTX announced a liquidity crisis and began searching for cash to plug the gaping hole in its balance sheet.

At the time, Bankman-Fried pretended in public that all was well.

“FTX is fine. Assets are fine,” he wrote in a tweet that day. The post has since been deleted.

But as Bankman-Fried was tweeting reassurances and promising that customer funds were safe, executives were growing increasingly alarmed at the expanding shortfall, according to prosecutors. 

In the “small group chat” thread, Bankman-Fried put forth some “potential todos,” including halting withdrawals, sending a “confident tweet thread” and reaching out to firms such as Silverlake, Sequoia, and Apollo as…

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Read the secret Signal messages that could help put SBF behind bars

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