New Judge Assigned in Sam Bankman-Fried Fraud Case

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has replaced Ronnie Abrams, who recused herself because of a potential conflict of interest.

AccessTimeIconDec 27, 2022 at 4:56 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 27, 2022 at 7:21 p.m. UTC
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U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has been assigned to preside over the fraud case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

Kaplan replaces U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who recused herself from the case on Friday because of a potential conflict of interest because her husband is a partner at law firm Davis Polk & Waddell, which advised FTX in 2021 and is now advising parties possibly adverse to FTX and Bankman-Fried in the exchange’s bankruptcy proceeding, according to Abrams.

Bankman-Fried is under house arrest on a $250 million bond and is scheduled to appear before the federal court on Jan. 3.

Kaplan was appointed to the Manhattan federal court by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and has presided over a number of high-profile cases, including Chevron’s 2014 appeal of an environmental case in which he ruled in favor of the oil giant, and 2021 sexual-assault case brought against Prince Andrew by Virginia Giuffre, which was settled out of court.

In 2020, Kaplan criticized some plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against blockchain firm Block.one for appearing to be an attempt to earn high legal fees. Block.one eventually agreed to pay $27.5 million to settle that case in a court-approved settlement.

UPDATE (Dec. 27, 19:21 UTC): Added info that Davis Polk previously advised FTX in 2021.

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Nelson Wang

Nelson Wang was CoinDesk's news editor for the East Coast. He holds BTC and ETH above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.


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