Sam Bankman-Fried's Defense Asks for Clarity on Charity, Bankruptcy Arguments

The trial for the founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX is scheduled to start Tuesday, and his lawyers are scoping out the range of arguments they might present.

AccessTimeIconOct 2, 2023 at 9:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 3, 2023 at 6:10 p.m. UTC

Sam Bankman-Fried's defense team wants clarity from the U.S. judge overseeing the FTX founder's case regarding certain arguments the lawyers can bring up during trial.

The defense wants clarity about whether it can argue that FTX, a big crypto exchange that collapsed last year, was not regulated in the U.S., though FTX.US did follow applicable rules, according to a Monday filing. Other questions include whether Bankman-Fried would be able to discuss the possibility that FTX creditors could secure massive recoveries in the exchange's ongoing bankruptcy case, and whether the one-time FTX executive can mention his charitable giving and philanthropy.

The defense also seemed concerned about the Department of Justice's plan to "admit evidence concerning the alleged illegal campaign finance scheme."

Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favor of the DOJ earlier this month when he granted prosecutors' motions to block Bankman-Fried from making certain arguments at trial. In the ruling he said that the defense did not object to those DOJ motions – statements the defense is now disputing. Bankman-Fried's objections to the DOJ's motions either contained arguments or details in footnotes that clarified his position, the Monday filing said.

Parts of the filing ask for clarity about the scope of the judge's ruling on the extent the defense could make its arguments.

The filing comes a day after the judge ruled that Bankman-Fried cannot mention his plan to raise his planned "advice of counsel" defense during his opening arguments, though he left the door open for the defense to bring these arguments up later after notifying the court and the prosecution.

The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. ET, when voir dire – or jury selection – is expected to start. Prosecutors have said in filings that they expect this process to take no longer than a day, indicating that opening arguments could begin as soon as Oct. 4.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


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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.