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Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers push for temporary release, object to prosecutors’ proposed deal

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Lawyers representing former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, or SBF, have claimed the “extraordinary accommodations” offered by authorities were insufficient in order for him to prepare for his criminal trial in October.

In an Aug. 25 filing in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, SBF’s legal team said the plan proposed by prosecutors to allow the former FTX CEO access to discovery materials before trial were inadequate. Lawyers said the U.S. Justice Department produced roughly 4 million pages worth of discovery materials on Aug. 24 and there were “millions of pages of documents and terabytes of data” left for SBF to review for his criminal trial.

“We do not believe that anything short of temporary release will properly address these problems and safeguard Mr. Bankman-Fried’s right to participate in his own defense,” said the filing. “Before his bail was revoked, Mr. Bankman-Fried was spending 80-100 hours a week reviewing the voluminous discovery and creating detailed analyses that he could update constantly and share with his attorneys.”

Bankman-Fried had been free on a $250-million bond for roughly 8 months following his extradition from the Bahamas and arraignment in the U.S. in December 2022. However, following allegations of witness intimidation of former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, a federal judge revoked his bail. Since Aug. 11, roughly two months before the start of his first criminal trial, SBF has been remanded to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Since his bail was revoked, SBF’s legal team has been pushing for fewer restrictions allowing him time outside jail in order to prepare for trial. A judge ruled on Aug. 21 that SBF be allowed roughly seven hours in the New York courthouse cell block attorney room on Aug. 22, and later issued an order giving him access to the same space with one laptop and wifi-enabled device on a seemingly unlimited basis provided his lawyers gave 48 hours’ notice.

“Mr. Bankman-Fried needs constant access to an internet-enabled computer that allows him to review documents from discovery, look up relevant context for the evidence online, draft and edit work product analyzing the documents and data, and share these documents and analyses with his attorneys,” claimed his legal team. “The Government’s current plan […] comes nowhere close to this.”

Related: Superseding indictment against Sam Bankman-Fried includes using $100M for campaign contributions

SBF’s first of two trials is scheduled to begin on Oct. 3, in which he will face seven charges related to fraudulent activities involving user funds at FTX and Alameda Research. The second trial, scheduled for March 2024, will include five other criminal charges.

According to court filings, Bankman-Fried’s legal team may pursue a defense claiming the former CEO acted “in good faith” on advice of lawyers from Fenwick & West and FTX’s in-house counsel. These allegedly illegal actions included SBF directing that certain communications between FTX and Alameda employees be automatically deleted.

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