Sam Bankman-Fried trial update: Where’s the money?

The SBF trial finished last week with the boy wonder himself testifying, as his attorney Mark Cohen comfortably led the defendant through a benign & naive narrative they are trying to spin to the judge & jury. Below is a courtroom sketch of Mark Cohen, the completely incompetent, ineffective & overpaid defense lawyer for SBF, as depicted by CoinDesk courtroom artist/reporter Nik De.

The SBF trial was paused Monday through Wednesday last week (Oct 23-25), because Mark Cohen was testifying with lots of press, cameras, reporters, etc, in another Manhattan courtroom– specifically in the Donald Trump v. New York fraud trial. That is a civil trial in its punishment & compensation phase, as Donald Trump has already been found guilty of fraud.

DOJ prosecution cross-examination in the criminal trial of SBF is expected to begin Monday (tomorrow), with the trial possibly ending next week, allowing the jury to deliberate a verdict. If convicted, the judge is going to come down hard on SBF, with an appeal highly unlikely to change anything, meaning SBF will need a Presidential pardon to get out of jail. SBF spread a LOT of money around into dark places and Trump loves NFTs, so it could happen. The other murky, unanswered question is, “Did SBF already cut a secret deal?” Its answer is unknowable to the public, but known in inner ruling circles.

Trump pardoned dozens of criminals (pic above) at the end of his Presidency simply because they paid his under-the-table extortion money, or they pledged their undying loyalty to the Donald.

Over $8 billion in customer funds is still missing from the FTX/Alameda fraud. Everyone in crypto assumes SBF has the stolen crypto stashed away in hidden wallet(s) somewhere in dark cyberspace. SBF was allowed plenty of time to do that– as FTX collapsed last November, as he was extradited back to the US from the Bahamas, and surely after he was allowed more-than-generous bail terms by a lenient Manhattan judge who let SBF stay with his parents in Palo Alto, California and work online, even after repeated violations of his bail terms.

Obviously US intelligence was monitoring & scrutinizing SBF’s online activities, but none of this (or its findings & conclusions) have ever been revealed to the public. What was SBF doing online during those months he was out on bail?

Without question, SBF moved massive crypto transfers from the time he was held by the Bahamian police, up until his bail being revoked after he published the personal diary of key DOJ witness (& former girlfriend) Caroline Ellison, who was SBF’s partner in crime. She pleaded guilty, as did a few others at FTX/Alameda, so their prison sentences will be much lighter. But the question still remains, “Where’s the money, SBF?”


Crypto’s day in court: SBF trial preview

In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. — Andy Warhol

Crypto is now dying, largely because of SBF’s FTX/Alameda fraud. The crypto venture capital has now gone to AI. This upcoming trial is a first (& perhaps last) for crypto: a high profile criminal case that exposes the entire industry as a Ponzi scheme.

Bitcoin was founded after the 2008 sub-prime loan banking crisis, on the white paper notion that if you do some fancy math & computer programming, you’ve created digital gold. It was a brave new world in finance back then.

People who believe this anti-materialist nonsense don’t understand where money comes from. Money comes from human labor producing useful commodities. Nothing else. Of course, capitalism allows capitalists to monopolize money and use it as a tool of class warfare to exploit the working class. This is how obscene levels of wealth are accrued with massive inequality.

Crypto posits that a digital token can be minted and that it has value, even though there is nothing behind it. Gold is real, and it has use value. Thus it can be used as a store of monetary value, and has been for millennia. Modern governments issue fiat currency, which since 1971, floats on the value of that nation’s economy. Stronger economies have stronger (more valuable) currencies. Since WW2, the US dollar has been the strongest currency, globally.

But in this era of global competition, China & Russia are increasingly unwilling to allow themselves to be shackled to US dollars for international commerce & exchange, especially with its non-US aligned trading partners. Oil is this most prized commodity, and Russia continues to cut back its production & output available on world markets, which is causing gas prices to rise globally. Furthermore, Putin has convinced the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & Iran to do the same. That worries US military planners.

Joe Biden has been exhausting US strategic reserves just to keep pump prices below $4.00/gallon. Once gas gets above that, American consumer anger increases, as the price of everything goes up.

This affects crypto mining, blockchain storage, processing, etc, as these activities are energy intensive. When electricity prices reach a certain level, bitcoin is no longer feasible. Interest rates have been increased by a hawkish Federal Reserve to cause a recession and weaken the labor market to control worker wage demands.

This macro-economic shift in ruling class policy (from near 0% interest rates for over a decade) has sent crypto into a death spiral. US intelligence agencies are keeping bitcoin alive because they have a use for it, but otherwise there is very little government support for crypto after the FTX collapse in November 2022. That’s why the SEC is now taking a hard line.

The hedge funds have moved into AI for their speculative urges. This is why the writers & actors strike must be crushed so ruthlessly. Venture capital is waiting to use AI in Hollywood to create its own vision, without having to pay actors. Just scan someone’s body and have them sign their likeness rights away, etc.

It’s the same vague concept for these libertarians & capitalists, whether its crypto or AI. Promote it as freedom & the future. Remain indistinct about rosy ideas such as effective altruism, while keeping the operational details secret. Keep all the money.

Everyone wants to get rich. Everyone wants to be famous & cool. This is how it’s pitched, and when so many people are desperate and see no future, this will resonate with a segment of them. The young people who actually believe in crypto are idealists. They lack seriousness of mind, and tend to look for (and settle on) easy answers. That defines the crypto community which less than a year ago held Sam Bankman-Fried as their boy genius savior.


Crypto security & securities

According to The Hash on Coindesk, the next generation of crypto users want wallets that are easier-to-use & safer. Of course, this is impossible.

The risks of self-custody crypto wallets are user-error & hacks. The risk of crypto storage on a centralized exchange is FTX, etc. Do you feel lucky with Binance? The Hash recommends multi-signature cold wallets as best practice for crypto storage. To get into crypto, you need to be tech-savvy and know exactly what you are doing in every area, otherwise you’re a pigeon.

The SEC just announced their long-awaited lawsuit against Binance for (among other things) selling unregistered securities. Is crypto a security, as the SEC alleges? First, a few definitions. Commodities are basic goods produced by human labor which can be bought, traded or exchanged– such as grain, cotton, oil or gold. Securities are corporate wagers on yields & returns, such as stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc.

Crypto is a security with no legitimate use value, as it is a money laundering tool. Intelligence agencies & dictators around the world use crypto to fund their illicit activities, which gives bitcoin its hidden (but powerful) political support.

Warren Buffett represents a faction of US capitalism that sees the danger in crypto, defining it as, “rat poison squared.” Crypto is the most unstable ‘asset class’ because it really isn’t an asset. Venture capitalists poured into this Ponzi scheme for years, and then lost a bundle when FTX/Alameda collapsed last November. The entire crypto industry has essentially been on a knife’s edge since the Terra/Luna collapse of May 2022.

US banks have shut their doors to crypto since Silvergate, Signature & Silicon Valley Bank went under earlier this year, in the wake of the FTX bankruptcy. It is now widely recognized that the entire crypto market, from bitcoin to stable coins, is a fraud. That’s what the world learned in 2022, and it has created a permanent state-of-crisis for the entire crypto industry and the greater financial system.

There are ‘responsible’ old-guard capitalists such as Warren Buffett who advocate banning crypto entirely, and then there is Elon Musk who represents the new-age era of crypto billionaires. How everything works out politically (under capitalism) is that they both remain influential billionaires, while the rest of the world works harder to maintain this fiction.

That is the deeper meaning of all the anti-crypto rhetoric coming from Washington & the SEC these days, and then the hysterical responses from crypto fanatics. If your cyber-widget is listed on exchanges and its price goes up & down (causing people to make & lose money), while providing no use value to the greater population, then it’s a security.

There is no way the US government will protect people from crypto fraud, since its corporate-police-military-intelligence apparatus is so intimately tied into it. It is the working people of the world who must put an end to this crypto fraud. Crypto offers false hope, and is simply another capitalist gambling addiction. It’s message is: “Fuck the world & everything in it. Get as much for yourself by any means.” Does that sound like a future people want? These crypto libertarians just don’t care.

Bitcoin remains at ~$27K, despite the ‘crypto winter’. Crypto winter means it’s now very difficult to find new investors (suckers) of any wallet size. Bitcoin is being propped-up with hidden finance capital, because it is the most recognized crypto brand, with etherium & tether (top ‘stablecoin’) next on that list. These are the ‘assets’ which provides the CIA the means to funnel funds to fascists in Kiev, Al Qaeda in Syria, etc.

The recent US ‘debt ceiling’ debate was a politically stage-managed affair to force the working population to pay for all this militarization & fictionalization of the US economy. Permanent wars of aggression globally are the order of the day, with crypto/big bank bailouts as needed, and US workers & taxpayers are to foot the bill. The question becomes: At what point will the workers & youth revolt and what form will that take politically?