Sam Bankman-Fried's Complaints About Discovery Are 'Misleading,' DOJ Says

Prosecutors push back on the ex-FTX CEO’s claims that they’re dumping too many documents on him, responding that the evidence had been at his fingertips for months.

AccessTimeIconAug 29, 2023 at 4:51 p.m. UTC
Updated Aug 30, 2023 at 3:12 p.m. UTC
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  • Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried wants the court to bar "millions" of pages of documents from being used as evidence this late in the case, but prosecutors are countering that he's long had access to them.
  • The Department of Justice is also alleging that Bankman-Fried has potentially mislabeled documents to keep them from being used.

Federal prosecutors have challenged FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s allegations that prosecutors dumped “millions” of pages worth of potential evidence on the former CEO’s defense team just two months ahead of his criminal trial, a Tuesday court filing shows.

The letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan comes after Bankman-Fried requested on Friday that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York bar a large stack of documents from being admitted as evidence at his October trial. In the letter, prosecutors allege that the millions of pages of discovery flagged by Bankman-Fried have been accessible to the former executive through his Google accounts for months.

Bankman-Fried “cannot plausibly claim to be prejudiced by the Government’s production of these materials, as he had months prior to being detained to mine them for materials relevant to his defense,” prosecutors said in the filing.

Still, Bankman-Fried on Friday (and again on Monday) pleaded for Judge Kaplan to bar the federal government from introducing evidence produced after July 1, 2023, arguing he wouldn’t have enough time to review all the materials before trial. He also argued that his confinement to a high-security prison in Brooklyn, NY, would limit his access to the most recent swath of documents prosecutors have shored up.

Sam Bankman-Fried is currently in pre-trial detention at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, where he landed after losing his bail earlier this month. Judge Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail after ruling the former executive’s alleged leaking of the private writings of Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison to the New York Times and efforts to contact his co-conspirators constituted witness tampering and a “threat to the community.”

Prosecutors used Bankman-Fried’s leaking of documents from his Google Drive account to argue that he still had access to the account – where the discovery materials came from – until very recently.

“He identified documents from his Google accounts that he believed would discredit one of the Government’s cooperating witnesses and provided them to a widely read publication,” the DOJ said in its filing.

Withholding evidence

In the filing, prosecutors also alleged Bankman-Fried took actions to thwart the government’s attempts to gain access to evidence. Bankman-Fried may have mislabeled certain documents as “privileged” to “improperly shield relevant evidence from the Government.” Specifically, they suggest the FTX founder may have asserted privilege over communications involving his lawyer parents even though he never technically employed them as legal counsel.

“[T]he defendant’s parents received millions of dollars in property paid for by the company, and the defendant’s father was present with the defendant in the final days of the company, while it was collapsing,” the DOJ said in its letter. “There is thus strong reason to believe that documents shared with the defendant’s parents in particular contain evidence relevant to the charged offenses.”

Bankman-Fried faces seven charges, including several counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to securities and commodities fraud.

Edited by Nikhilesh De and Jesse Hamilton.


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