The ex-girlfriend of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried told a jury today that he donated $10million to Joe Biden’s campaign to gain ‘influence’. 

Assistant US Attorney Danielle Sasson asked Caroline Ellison what Bankman-Fried said about spending money on politics.

Ellison said: ‘He thought it was very effective, you could get very high returns in terms of influence by spending relatively small amounts of money.

‘He donated $10million to (Joe) Biden and that was a relatively small amount of money. He felt that was something that got him influence and recognition.’

Sassoon asked Ellison to describe the ‘nature of your personal relationship’ with Bankman-Fried.

She said: ‘I would say the whole time we were dating he was also my boss at work which created some awkward situations.

‘My general feeling (was) I wanted more from our relationship and often felt he was distant or not paying attention to me.’

Asked why she eventually broke up with Bankman-Fried, Ellison said: ‘Because of those things I mentioned. I felt he wasn’t spending much time on the relationship’.

Caroline Ellison leaves Manhattan Federal Court in Manhattan, New York City on October 10, 2023

Ellison – the ex-girlfriend of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried – told a jury today that he donated $10million to Joe Biden ‘s campaign to gain ‘influence’

Caroline Ellison leaves Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday 

Ellison told the jury that Bankman-Fried ‘directed me’ to commit Fraud, and all the crimes ‘were committed with Sam’

Ellison old a jury today that Bankman-Fried donated $10million to Joe Biden ‘s campaign to gain ‘influence’

Ellison testified that Bankman-Fried ‘directed me’ to commit fraud.

She said that Bankman-Fried told her to take $14billion from the failed crypto exchange’s customers to repay the loans of its sister company, which she ran.

Testifying as the prosecution’s star witness, Ellison said that Bankman-Fried set up the computer system loopholes that allowed the fraud to take place.

Asked if she committed the crimes alone, she told the court in New York: ‘No, they were committed with Sam.’

Ellison, a 29-year-old daughter of two MIT professors who posted about her love of Harry Potter in online blogs, has already pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is testifying as part of her plea deal.

The former couple made no eye contact and Bankman-Fried stared directly ahead as she sat in the witness box 

Her testimony is central to the case brought by prosecutors who claim that FTX was a ‘house of cards’ which was worth $32billion at its peak.

The crypto exchange collapsed last November after media reports raised questions about its finances.

Ellison walked into court wearing a dark pink dress and a gray blazer and appeared calm and confident.

There was no eye contact between her and Bankman-Fried and he stared directly ahead as she sat in the witness box.

In the overflow room a dozen friends of Ellison’s rushed towards the TV showing the live stream when she came on in a show of support.

She told the court that she ran Alameda Research, FTX’s sister company which Bankman-Fried owned and shared an office with FTX.

Prosecutors claimed that it worked like a slush fund which spent billions of FTX customers’ money to pay for lavish expenses, real estate purchases and to make political donations.

Sasson asked Ellison: ‘How do you know Sam Bankman-Fried?’

Ellison said: ‘We met while I was an intern at Jane St (financial trading company) and worked together. Later we worked together at Alameda and dated for a couple of years’.

Sassoon: ‘While working at Alameda did you commit crimes?’

Ellison said: ‘Yes we did.’

Sasson asked what she meant by ‘we’ to which Ellison replied: ‘Sam and I and others.’

Sassoon asked: ‘What kind of crimes did you commit with Sam?’

In response, Ellison told the jury: ‘Fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.’

Caroline Ellison former CEO of Alameda Research founded by Sam Bankman-Fried exits the Manhattan federal court after testifying on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023

Ellison climbed into the back of a waiting car after testifying at at Manhattan Federal Court 

Ellison testified that Bankman-Fried ‘directed me’ to commit fraud when she appeared at Manhattan Federal Court on October 10, 2023

Ellison looked expressionless as she left court after her testimony on Tuesday, gripping her backpack

Ellison held onto her backpack as she left court on Tuesday where she claimed her ex boyfriend and former boss Sam Bankman-Fried had donated $10million to Joe Biden’s campaign to gain ‘influence and recognition’

Ellison leaving the courthouse on Tuesday afternoon

Ellison dodged reporters to climb into the back of a waiting car outside Manhattan Federal Court 

Caroline Ellison took the stand on Tuesday in ex-boyfriend Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial. Pictured: Ellison arriving with sunglasses and a blue ball cap on

Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, put on a united front outside Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday after hearing testimony in the fraud case against their son 

Caroline Ellison and Bankman-Fried’s sexual relationship continued for multiple years while they both spearheaded the now-disgraced crypto firm FTX

Ellison walked into court wearing a dark pink dress and a gray blazer and appeared calm and confident

Asked who she defrauded, Ellison said: ‘The customers of FTX, the investors in FTX and the lenders.’

Sassoon said: ‘Just to be clear, did you commit these crimes alone?’

Ellison said: ‘No, they were committed with Sam.’

At that point Ellison was asked if she saw Bankman-Fried in court.

She stood up and spent a few minutes scanning the courtroom, apparently having trouble finding him.

Bankman-Fried has recently lost a lot of weight, was wearing far smarter clothes than his trademark shorts and t-shirt and cut the sides of his hair short.

Eventually Ellison saw him and said he was ‘over there wearing a suit’ and gestured to Bankman-Fried.

Sassoon asked: ‘You defrauded FTX customers with the defendant. What was his involvement in the crimes?’

Ellison said: ‘He was originally the CEO of Alameda and then the owner of Alameda and he directed me to commit these crimes’.

Sassoon asked Ellison to explain ‘at a general level’ what she did to commit crimes.

She said: ‘Alameda took several billion dollars of money from FTX customers and used it for investments and to repay debts we had’.

Ellison said that Alameda’s special privileges with FTX meant it had an ‘unlimited line of credit with FTX’.

Sassoon asked ‘what role’ Bankman-Fried had in taking that money and sending it to Alameda.

Ellison said that he was the ‘one who set up the systems’ that allowed it to happen.

She said: ‘He was the one who directed us to take the customers’ money to repay the loans’.

Ellison said that Alameda took ‘around $14 billion’ from FTX customers before its collapse.

Court sketch shows Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon question Ellison in front of a screen showing Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao and Sam Bankman-Fried shaking hands

Bankman-Fried dated Ellison and appointed her as head of FTX’s sister company Alameda Research 

Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison if convicted on a slew of fraud charges

Ellison told the jury she grew up near Boston and studied math at Stanford University before working as an intern on the equities desk at Jane Street, a trading company.

She met Bankman-Fried there as he was working as a trader.

He left and in Spring 2018 she met him for coffee when he told her he had started his own company, Alameda, and offered her a job as a trader.

But shortly after joining she found that Alameda was in ‘much worse shape than I realized’.

She said: ‘Right before I started working there it suffered large losses. Lenders pulled out a lot of money and more than half the company indeed up quitting’.

Sassoon asked if Bankman-Fried had shared these ‘rough circumstances’ with her before she joined.

She said no. Ellison told the jury: ‘I asked why he hadn’t shared more of this information and he apologized and said he hadn’t known how to tell me.’

Ellison said that they were ‘not really’ open about their relationship and that the first time they dated they kept it a ‘secret’.

The second time Bankman-Fried ‘agreed to make it public’ and they were living together but ‘didn’t talk about it much’

Ellison said that in 2021 she became co-chief executive of Alameda – at the time she and Bankman-Fried were ‘on a break’ – and chief executive in 2022.

She told the jury that her salary did not change when she became co-chief executive and she stayed on $200,000 a year.

She got bonuses ranging from $100,000 a year to $20million, her largest one, in 2021.

She asked Bankman-Fried for an equity stake in Alameda but he brushed her off by saying it was ‘too complicated and didn’t make sense’.

She got a 0.5 percent stake in FTX, which was a fraction of that owned by Bankman-Fried and his other top lieutenants.

Ellison admitted she was ‘not particularly’ well suited to be in charge of Alameda.

She said: ‘I felt it was a big job and I wasn’t very experienced. Sam said there wasn’t a better person for the job.’

She told the jury she became concerned when she discovered that Alameda had loaned billions of dollars to Bankman-Fried, FTX co-founder Gary Wang and Nishad Singh, its chief engineer.

Ellison told the jury she became concerned when she discovered that Alameda had loaned billions of dollars to Bankman-Fried, FTX co-founder Gary Wang and Nishad Singh, its chief engineer

According to Ellison, by May 2022, those loans totaled $5billion and they were in investments which were unlikely to be paid back.

By comparison, she only got one loan of $3.5million which she used to fund an investment in a gambling company.

Some $35million of the $5billion went to Ryan Saleme, a former FTX employee who used it to donate to Republican politicians, Ellison told the court.

Ellison said that Bankman-Fried told her he was ‘risk neutral’ and was open to taking risks if there was a good potential payoff.

She said: ‘He would be happy to flip a coin if it came up tails if the world was destroyed, if it came up heads the world would be twice as good.’

Ellison’s testimony came after FTX co-founder Gary Wang testified against Bankman-Fried as part of his own plea deal. The company’s head of engineering, Nishad Singh, is also expected to testify later in the trial.

Bankman-Fried, 31, has denied 13 counts between 2019 and 2011 including wire fraud, money laundering and violations of campaign finance laws which could see him jailed for 115 years.

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