DOJ 'Overreaching' in Trying to Block Sam Bankman-Fried's Proposed Witnesses, Defense Says

The DOJ, for its part, said the defense mischaracterized a proposed prosecution witness's planned testimony.

AccessTimeIconSep 12, 2023 at 3:41 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 12, 2023 at 3:17 p.m. UTC

The U.S. Department of Justice is continuing its push to prevent FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried from having a fair trial, defense attorneys charged in a filing pushing back against prosecutors' motion to disqualify proposed expert witness testimony.

Prosecutors moved last month to block all seven of Bankman-Fried's proposed expert third-party witnesses from testifying, saying they may not have had relevant experience or that their proposed testimony wouldn't be applicable to the actual trial. Monday night's filing from the defense argued against these planned exclusions, saying the DOJ's arguments don't hold water.

"The Government’s Motions to Exclude continue the theme illustrated by its motions in limine, namely, overreaching with regard to the rules of evidence and pretrial motions to thwart Mr. Bankman-Fried’s fundamental right to present a defense or even to introduce evidence that might be inconsistent with the Government’s theories," the defense said.

Some of the proposed witnesses, like consultant Thomas Bishop and data analytics and forensics expert Brian Kim, are meant to rebut DOJ testimony "if made relevant by the government's case," the filing said.

Other proposed witnesses, like Capital University Law School Professor Bradley Smith – a former Federal Election Commissioner – can provide context for issues like how political contributions are normally made, the filing said.

Another witness would help the jury understand FTX's terms of service, the filing claimed.

Joseph Pimbley, another consultant, can help explain FTX's software, the filing said. While the DOJ intends to call former FTX executives Gary Wang and Nishad Singh to testify about this, their "credibility" is questionable due to their being cooperating witnesses for the prosecution, the filing said.

Prosecutors, for their part, also pushed back against the defense team's motion to block University of Notre Dame Professor Peter Easton, saying the defense's motion mischaracterized what Easton would say.

"Professor Easton’s testimony about customer fiat deposits will be descriptive, not prescriptive," the filing said. "He will describe, for instance, whether customer fiat deposits were kept in segregated bank accounts; not whether it was improper to commingle customers’ funds. He will describe whether balances in bank accounts receiving customer funds matched the balances in FTX’s transaction database and ledger; not whether it was improper if they did not match."

Easton's testimony will be based on "rigorous financial accounting and reliable methodologies," the DOJ said, including tracing funds between bank accounts.

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.

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