"He thought the only moral rule that mattered was doing whatever would maximize the utility."
In her latest courtroom salvo, Sam Bankman-Fried's former colleague and romantic partner Caroline Ellison testified that her ex had what seems to be a pretty skewed moral compass.
As transcribed by Bloomberg, the latest remarks from Ellison, the former CEO of FTX sister firm and alleged slush fund Alameda Research, show not only Bankman-Fried's philosophical tolerance for dishonesty, but his purported penchant for pushing others into it as well.
SBF was, as Ellison put it, a "utilitarian" who didn't have much affinity for rules that prohibited lying and theft — a philosophy that ties in neatly with the Effective Altruism movement that both ascribed to.
Prior to the arduous crash of the FTX crypto exchange last fall and its stunning aftermath, Bankman-Fried, then a billionaire, was considered the poster boy for Effective Altruism, which is centered on making as much money as possible so that it can be used to help make the world a better place.
Though he admitted nearly a year ago that the "ethics stuff" was "mostly a front," Bankman-Fried's utilitarian thinking nevertheless seems, at least per his ex-girlfriend's reckoning, to have played a major role in the way he ran FTX.
"He thought the only moral rule that mattered," Ellison said in court today, "was doing whatever would maximize the utility."
As the 28-year-old said in her testimony, that attitude eventually rubbed off onto her and made her "more willing to do things like lie and steal."
"When I started working at Alameda I don’t think I would have believed if you told me I would be sending false balance sheets to our lenders or taking customer money," Ellison added, "but over time it was something I felt more comfortable with."
These remarks made during the former Alameda CEO's second day of testimony against Bankman-Fried offer another look into the modus operandi and self-regard of the disgraced crypto scion as more information comes out about him in court, in the media, and in a bombshell new SBF biography by journalist Michael Lewis that dropped just in time for the trial to begin.
During her previous appearance before the court, Ellison said Bankman-Fried "directed" her to commit the financial crimes she pleaded guilty to at the end of 2022, which included multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy.
"I sent balance sheets at the direction of Sam [Bankman-Fried] that made Alameda's balances look less risky to investors," she said during her October 10 testimony, per transcription from the crypto site Coindesk.
We've long known that Ellison's testimony against her ex-boyfriend and alleged co-conspirator was going to include loads of dirty laundry, but the bars she's dropping are nevertheless keeping us riveted as the case barrels on.
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