When Sam Bankman-Fried was running crypto exchange FTX and hobnobbing with celebrities and high-net-worth individuals, he had even higher aspirations: the White House.
According to Caroline Ellison, his ex-girlfriend and former CEO of FTX's sister hedge fund Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried was "very ambitious" beyond building the cryptocurrency trading firm.
"He talked about wanting Alameda, and eventually FTX, to be successful and to end up being huge companies that did a wide variety of things," she said during testimony on Tuesday. "He was also very interested in politics and talked about wanting to use his money to have influence on politics."
"He said at one point he thought there was a 5% chance he would become president," Ellison noted while also detailing their on-again, off-again romantic relationship.
Bankman-Fried, who was once briefly the world's youngest billionaire, according to reports, is on trial for the collapse of FTX, which lost $1 billion in customer funds and is likened to the biggest fraud after Enron.
Part of the trial focuses on the funds used for political donations. Bankman-Fried's parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, are facing a civil suit by the creditors of FTX and Alameda Research for their alleged supervisory role in the firm and the funds they received, some of which were directed to Democratic political causes.
Both are attending the trial in New York.
Ellison, in her first day of testimony, told jurors she and Bankman-Fried committed crimes together. When pressed by the prosecution for details on the kinds of crimes she committed with Bankman-Fried, she answered: "Fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and money laundering," according to court transcripts reviewed by FOX Business.
She also specified who was defrauded.
"The customers of FTX, the investors in FTX, and lenders to Alameda," Ellison answered.
In further testimony on Wednesday, Ellison, who previously lived with Bankman-Fried and others in a $35 million Bahamas apartment, detailed a feeling of a "constant state of dread" as FTX customers were demanding to pull out their funds as it, along with Alameda Research, was bleeding, exasperated by falling cryptocurrencies in a trend dubbed "crypto winter" by trading professionals.
In the days leading up to FTX's collapse and those that followed, bitcoin, the largest crypto by market value, dipped below the $15,000 level from the $31,000 level. It has since in recent weeks settled between a $26,000 and $27,000 range.
Before his fall from grace, Bankman-Fried enjoyed friendships with celebrities, including former NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who shilled for FTX with his ex-wife, Gisele Bundchen, doing several TV commercials.
"He paid Tom Brady $55 million for 20 hours a year for three years. He paid [NBA star] Steph Curry $35 million for — same thing for three years," famed author Michael Lewis told "60 Minutes" in a recent interview. Lewis is out with a new book about Bankman-Fried and the collapse of FTX.
Bankman-Fried is facing up to 100 years in jail if convicted on all charges.