Sam Bankman-Fried Trial: All the Names You Need to Know

The ex-CEO and co-founder of the collapsed digital asset exchange and megabrand FTX Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial starts next week in New York’s Southern District. 

Bankman-Fried will face seven criminal charges relating to his company last year blowing up in what James Bromley, counsel to FTX’s new management, described as the “one of the most abrupt and difficult collapses in the history of corporate America.”

Although Bankman-Fried—also known as SBF—will be the star of the show, there’s a whole host of other important characters who will play an important role in the trial. 

Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried. Image: Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Bankman-Fried, 31, studied at MIT and worked at Jane Street before launching FTX and Alameda Research. 

Dorky, loquacious and mega-rich, he became one of the world’s youngest billionaires at 29 but claimed he subscribed to the philosophy of effective altruism and was only interested in making all that money so he could ultimately give it away to good causes. 

After FTX went bankrupt in November 2021, Bankman-Fried gave a number of interviews to mainstream media and apologized profusely about losing so much money. He was then arrested in the Bahamas—where FTX was based—and hit with criminal charges. 

He has pleaded not guilty. 

Barbara Fried and Joseph Bankman

SBF’s mother, Barbara Fried, was a professor at one of America’s most prestigious universities, Stanford Law School, before retiring last year. She claimed her departure had nothing to do with the collapse of her son’s crypto empire. 

Before her teaching position, Fried worked as an associate with the New York City law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and served as a law clerk to Judge J. Edward Lumbard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, according to a Stanford bio. 

SBF’s father Joseph Bankman was also a law professor at Stanford who retired last year. Bankman is a tax expert who worked with the State of California to help make the U.S. tax code friendlier to lower-income citizens—a system called ReadyReturn. 

Like his wife, he reportedly was well-known in progressive circles. Bankman is also a clinical psychologist who has testified before Congress and other legislative bodies. 

Both are involved not only because they are the parents of the alleged fraudster, but because a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges they leveraged their influential roles within the FTX enterprise for personal gain, and channeled millions of dollars to various entities, family and friends.

Gabriel Bankman-Fried 

SBF’s brother Gabriel is involved in the trial because he ran a pandemic-prevention group that received cash from FTX. Authorities are now looking at whether Gabriel misappropriated funds. 

Gabriel allegedly wanted “to purchase the sovereign nation of Nauru in order to construct a ‘bunker/shelter’ that would be used for ‘some event where 50%-99.99% of people die’.”

John J. Ray III 

John J Ray III, the newly appointed CEO of FTX, oversaw the liquidation of Enron. Image: House Financial Services Committee

John J. Ray III is the man behind the restructuring of collapsed crypto firm FTX. Serving as the crypto firm’s new CEO, he has said that the company’s collapse was caused by “a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals.”

With a 40-year career, the experienced bankruptcy lawyer had apparently seen it all. Most notably, he helped recover hundreds of millions of dollars for creditors following the collapse of Enron—one of the biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history. 

But FTX might just be his hardest task to date: last year he said he had never seen “such an utter failure of corporate controls.”

Judge Lewis Kaplan

Source: United States Courts

Judge Kaplan, 78, is the judge presiding over the case—and he’s already made a number of big rulings in the case, including allowing Sam to wear business attire and granting him use to an air-gapped laptop during the trial.

Described as having a “no-nonsense” style for making quick decisions, he is also no stranger to the crypto world: he oversaw the first federal bitcoin securities fraud prosecution. 

Kaplan has experience in high-profile cases such as lawsuits against Prince Andrew and Donald Trump. 

Ryan Salame 

Former FTX Digital Markets CEO Ryan Salame attends a groundbreaking for the company’s new headquarters before the crypto exchange collapsed and filed for bankruptcy. (Source: The Office of the Prime Minister of the Bahamas)

Ryan Salame is the former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets and was said to have handled political donations on behalf of the now-defunct crypto exchange’s executives. He pleaded guilty to criminal campaign finance violation charges in a Manhattan court earlier this month. 

Sam Trabucco

Not involved in the trial. The former co-CEO of Alameda Research, Trabucco was a key figure in the FTX empire before its collapse. He left the firm in August of last year, and has maintained a low profile.

Nishad Singh

The former head of engineering at FTX Nishad Singh pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations in February. Singh, who had a 7.8% stake in the company and was in SBF’s close circle of friends and colleagues, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the disgraced crypto mogul.

Caroline Ellison

Former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison. Image: @carolinecapital on Twitter

The ex-girlfriend of Sam Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, will be a star witness in his criminal trial. Ellison was the former CEO of Alameda Research and in December she admitted fraud. 

Ellison was hired by Bankman-Fried to run Alameda—she was one of many close friends and colleagues that lived with the disgraced crypto mogul. Decrypt exclusively uncovered that Ellison had a fascination with race science and polyamory, which she frequently blogged about. 

Gary Wang

FTX co-founder Gary Wang also pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities in the FTX investigation. Friends with Bankman-Fried since high school, Wang helped set up the crypto behemoth but maintained a much lower profile than SBF during the crypto company’s golden years. 

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