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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Inui

Weekly News Blast | Oct 1 - 8

Fallen Cryptocurrency Mogul Sam Bankman-Fried Goes On Trial bill that will require large companies to report all of their carbon emissions (Office of the Governor of California, Wikimedia Commons)

Fallen Cyptocurrency Mogul Sam Bankman-Fried Goes On Trial

The trial for cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried began on October 3. He faces seven federal charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering, enough to put him in jail for life. The charges center around his failed cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, and an affiliated hedge fund called Alameda Research. Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried cheated customers out of nearly $10 billion, spending the money on a lavish lifestyle while concealing mountains of corporate debt. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

The defense has tried to portray Bankman-Fried's motivations as inexperience rather than malice, saying in opening statements, “Sam didn’t defraud anyone. Sam didn’t intend to defraud anyone.” The defense also tried to shift blame onto other FTX associates, including Alameda chief executive Caroline Ellison. “As the majority owner of Alameda, [Bankman-Fried] urged her to put on a hedge, something that would protect against such a downturn,” the defense commented. “She didn’t do so at the time, and this also becomes an issue later on when the storm hit"

However, several of Bankman-Fried’s close associates, including co-founder Gary Wang, have entered plea agreements with prosecutors and agreed to testify in court. Wang, who testified on October 5, admitted to committing to financial crimes while at FTX. When asked whom he had committed these crimes with, Wang mentioned Bankman-Fried, among others. While the trial is expected to last six weeks, with so many associates testifying against him, including FTX executives Nishad Singh and Adam Yedidia, as well as Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried faces an uphill battle in the weeks ahead.

Poland Visa Scandal Concerns Other European Union Member States

Poland has recently come under fire after allegations that its consulates in Africa and Asia illicitly sold over 130,000 temporary work visas to migrants. Poland’s Interior Ministry admitted that visas had been issued illegally, but argued that the number was less than 30,000. Since then, Poland has fired Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk and arrested seven people suspected to be involved in the scheme. The anti-corruption bureau has also launched an audit of the Foreign Ministry.

These allegations come just days before the October 15 elections. The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) is known for its strict immigration policies, but opposition parties have now used this opportunity to expose the PiS’ hypocrisy, calling the situation “the biggest scandal we have faced in the 21st Century” and “corruption at the highest levels of government.”

Criticism has also come internationally. As a European Union (EU) member state, Poland is part of the 27-nation ID-check free travel zone known as Schengen. “What happens in a Schengen state affects the functioning of all Schengen countries,” said European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas. “If third-country nationals have been allowed the right of free movement within Schengen, without respecting the appropriate conditions and procedures, this would amount to a violation of EU law.” The European Commission (the EU’s ruling body) has given Poland two weeks to provide “clarifications” on the situation. Individual member states, including Germany, have also reached out to Poland, expressing worry and demanding answers.

New California Law Requires Companies to Disclose Carbon Emissions

A historic California law will now require large companies to disclose all of their carbon emissions. Signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on October 7, the law will require nearly 5,300 companies whose annual revenues exceed $1 billion (including Chevron, Wells Fargo, Amazon, and Apple) to disclose all emissions produced not only directly by operations and electricity use but also indirectly through their supply chains and customers, known as scope-3 emissions.

State Senator Scott Wiener, who had attempted to pass the bill twice before, celebrated the bill's passage on Saturday. “These companies are doing business in California,” he said. “It’s important for Californians to know … what their carbon footprint is.” Hollin Kretzmann, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, added that the disclosure requirements would make it harder for companies to greenwash. However, the California Chamber of Commerce has come out in opposition to the bill, claiming that the mandates create an unnecessary burden for companies without the infrastructure to report their indirect emissions. Especially with federal regulators considering similar policies, the chamber said the law could create “duplicative” work for corporations.

Even Newsom raised some concerns over the bill. “This important policy, once again, demonstrates California's continued leadership with bold responses to the climate crisis,” Newsom wrote in his signing statement. However, he also questioned the bill’s implementation deadline and the “overall financial impact of this bill on businesses.” Regardless, the California Air Resources Board has until 2025 to create a system for reporting emissions, upon which the law will take full effect.



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