FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried Moves to Dismiss Most Criminal Charges Against Him

Bankman-Fried did not move to dismiss charges tied to securities fraud or money laundering.

AccessTimeIconMay 9, 2023 at 3:12 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 2:32 p.m. UTC

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried filed pretrial motions to dismiss a majority of the charges he faces late Monday.

Bankman-Fried, who is set to go on trial this fall, faces over a dozen different charges ranging from wire, securities and commodities fraud allegations to bribery claims. The charges were brought across multiple superseding indictments tied to his conduct as former Chief Executive Officer of the Bahamas-based crypto exchange FTX, which collapsed dramatically last November, filing for bankruptcy alongside nearly 100 related firms and subsidiaries.

In his pretrial motions, Bankman-Fried's attorneys moved to dismiss charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud on FTX customers; of wire fraud on FTX customers; of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Alameda Research lenders; of wire fraud on Alameda Research lenders; and of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, on the grounds that prosecutors did not "state an offense for failure to allege a valid property right."

They also moved to dismiss the bank fraud conspiracy, unlicensed money transmitter operation, unlawful political contribution and bribery charges on discovery grounds.

A third motion was also filed to dismiss the fraud charges tied to FTX customers and the unlicensed money transmitter charge "for failure to state an offense."

A final motion seeks to dismiss the bribery and political contribution charges.

Bankman-Fried's attorneys did not seek to dismiss charges alleging conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried's lead attorney, had previously hinted at the motions to dismiss during an arraignment, telling the court that his client "is not acknowledging that he can be tried" on the charges brought after the extradition. Bankman-Fried pleaded "not guilty" to other charges brought across previous indictments.

In a memorandum of law supporting the motions, Bankman-Fried's attorneys wrote that he had agreed to extradition based on a list of charges which did not include some of the charges later brought against him.

Part of the argument is that under the terms of the extradition treaty between the Bahamas and the U.S., the Bahamas needs to "consent" to the charges brought after the extradition, and the Bahamas – where Bankman-Fried resided at the time of his arrest – could not consent without additional information that has not been provided.

Other memoranda of law lay out additional arguments for Bankman-Fried's motions for dismissal, which include claims that FTX did not need to register as a money transmitter and that some of the laws Bankman-Fried is being charged under don't apply as FTX is based outside the U.S.

Another filing asks for additional discovery documents on the basis that FTX "should be considered part of the 'prosecution team,'" citing FTX's cooperation with the Department of Justice.

"The FTX Debtors and their outside counsel continue to make extraordinary efforts to help the prosecution that go far beyond mere cooperation with a criminal investigation," the filing said.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.