The former CEO of defunct crypto exchange FTX Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) trial is set to begin in October, barring any postponement. Ahead of the trial, here are some key details to note as SBF faces up to 100 years imprisonment if found guilty by the jury.
Charges Leveled Against FTX’s Founder
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged SBF with seven counts of fraud-related crimes, namely: Wire fraud of FTX customers, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on FTX customers, wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research, conspiracy to commit securities fraud on FTX investors, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud on FTX customers, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Sam Bankman-Fried was initially charged with 13 counts in an earlier indictment. However, the prosecution decided to drop six of them, including the ‘violation of campaign finance rules’ charge, as those charges didn’t form part of the US government’s extradition agreement with the Bahamas government.
Additionally, the FTX founder had allegedly spent $100 million to fund several politicians’ campaigns in a bid to gain political favors. He went as far as using straw donors, violating several campaign laws in the process.
Nevertheless, SBF has maintained his innocence and has not pled guilty to these charges. With this in mind, the prosecution must prove its case to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury is expected to consider all charges leveled against SBF separately and decide whether or not the prosecution has provided sufficient evidence to prove all counts leveled against him.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, the judge in charge of SBF’s case, had stated that he and his lawyers could request a postponement if they felt they needed more time to prepare their defense. However, going by Judge Kaplan’s latest order, SBF’s lawyers chose not to file any motion for a postponement, meaning that the trial will begin on October 3 as stipulated.
If a postponement were to occur, SBF’s trial date would likely be pushed to next year, as Judge Kaplan had stated during a virtual hearing on August 30. The judge had suggested that the date would be March 11, 2024, subject to the approval of the Bahamas government.
Sam Bankman-Fried: The Prosecution And Defense’s Case
The DOJ will rely on the witness testimonies of several co-founders and senior executives from FTX and its sister company, Alameda Research. This is because some of these top executives were reportedly aware and part of SBF’s illicit activities.
These top employees turned on Bankman-Fried by agreeing to a plea deal with the prosecutors and were instrumental to the DOJ building up its case against the former FTX CEO. The executives include former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, co-CEO Ryan Salame, and FTX’s executive Nishad Singh.
Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried plans to enlist the services of seven expert witnesses in a bid to create holes in the prosecution’s case. These witnesses are expected to give evidence of various issues, including campaign finance laws, the finances of FTX and its sister company, Alameda Research, and the crypto exchange’s software infrastructure.