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Sam Bankman-Fried to testify in FTX fraud trial, attorney says

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried will take the stand to testify in his own defense, his attorney said in a conference call Wednesday. The decision by his legal team sets him up for a cross-examination by federal prosecutors, who will be able to press him on the collapse of his crypto exchange FTX.

Bankman-Fried’s decision to testify came after federal prosecutors and his defense team were able to secure the alleged fraudster an adequate supply of his ADHD medication. His defense had previously argued before the court that inadequate access to the medication impugned his ability to participate in his defense.

The FTX co-founder’s legal team will begin its defense immediately after the government finishes its case, which is expected to take place Thursday morning. Prosecutors have one remaining witness to call, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who will serve as a summary witness.

The defense will also call three other witnesses besides Bankman-Fried to the stand, defense attorney Mark Cohen said on the call.

His lawyers had opposed the government’s request to begin their defense immediately after the government rested its case in a filing Tuesday night.

It is widely considered to be a risky maneuver. While his defense team will be able to question him, and the former billionaire would be able to provide his own narrative as to the collapse, it also opens up Bankman-Fried to a cross-examination by federal prosecutors. So far, the prosecution has called up several of Bankman-Fried’s top executives to testify, including Nishad Singh and Caroline Ellison, his one-time romantic partner and former CEO of Alameda Research.

Bankman-Fried stands accused of fraud and money laundering of his role in the collapse of the multi-billion dollar crypto exchange FTX. Since the company filed for bankruptcy, Bankman-Fried has been accused of systematically pilfering billions in customer assets from the exchanges reserves, in order to fund political contributions, real estate acquisitions and high profile sponsorship deals.

The government has also presented extensive evidence to support its claims, including Signal chats and internal documents, which prosecutors allege show how Bankman-Fried orchestrated the spending of customer funds.

CNBC’s Dawn Giel contributed to this report.

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