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Google CEO testifies in Ozy Media founder’s fraud trial

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At the center of the federal criminal trial is an incident in 2021 in which Mr. Watson’s deputy deceived Goldman Sachs employees on a fundraising call by posing as a YouTube executive. The revelation of the call precipitated Ozy’s downfall.

Defense lawyers for Mr. Watson and Ozy blamed his deputy, Samir Rao, for the fake phone call and for misrepresenting Ozy’s financial data to potential investors. Ms. Frison said in her opening statement in May that Mr. Rao was “incompetent for the role he was filling.”

Mr. Rao and Suzee Han, Ozy’s former chief of staff, pleaded guilty last year to fraud charges.

Mr Watson’s defense continued to point the finger at Mr Rao during cross-examination this week, pressing prosecution witnesses about Mr Watson’s personal involvement in the alleged illegal conduct.

“Mr Rao handled all the financials, the investor presentations, he was in the background with the numbers,” Ms. Frison said in her opening statement, adding that he “made some crucial mistakes that the government is now pointing out as somewhat of a conspiracy.”

Mr. Watson’s lawyers also argued that while the founders of BuzzFeed and Vice engaged in the same conduct as Ozy executives to attract investment, prosecutors prosecuted Mr. Watson because he is black.

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