Jul 27, 2023

U.S. prosecutors want Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, jailed as he awaits his criminal trial scheduled for early October.

Video transcript

The state of crypto is presented by Tron connecting the world to the power of Cryptocurrency. Joining us now with more legal analysis on Sam Beman Fried's upcoming trial is Zfz Law co-founder, Michael Zak. Welcome to the show, Michael. Good morning. Thank you. All right, we're continuing this SPF watch that we started the show off with. You have significant experience in white collar criminal defense, in your opinion, were the judge's actions and SPFS hearing fair here? Oh, they were definitely fair. Um I think this judge has given him a lot of opportunity to sort of correct the behavior before trial. Uh but this judge is clearly exasperated with Mr Bank and freed and um I sort of a bad move on his part to continue to poke this judge and uh and create issues that really should be at this point, not an issue in your experience. Have you seen, uh have you seen people act in this way ahead of trial and how have you seen the courts respond? Is this a normal response that we're seeing from the judge? Well, it's nothing about this case is normal. Uh Mr Beman Fried's behavior. Uh and his sort of intent to continue to comment on the facts of the case are unusual. Uh Typically your defense team is gonna step in and prohibit you from doing this. Mr Bank F freed definitely has a mind of his own uh and seems to be insistent that he needs to have access uh to, to comment on all the various issues related to his case. If you were his lawyer, how would you be advising him right now? Stop talking. I've said this from the very beginning, he is only undermining him his ability to get a fair trial in front of a jury. It's also the fact that he continues to create issues in front of the court that is going to be overseeing the trial in this case as well as potentially sentencing him. And his behavior indicates that he just refuses to accept any form of responsibility if that becomes an issue later on in the case for sentencing. You know, it's not like he doesn't have a, a good legal team supporting him. His parents are lawyers. Are you surprised that this is continuing to move forward the way it is for him? Well, I'm not surprised because uh defendants with his level of ego seem to always think that they know better than their, their defense attorneys even with the, the absolute best of defense teams. And certainly he has one of those uh sometimes just cannot control their clients mindsets. All right. Now we set the story up a little bit with uh Nick prior to you joining us. Do you anticipate that other conditions of his bail will change ahead of the trial in October? Well, I think this judge is probably of a mindset to impose a formal gag order. I think that uh I, I don't know that he's there yet on actually uh imprisoning bank be freed right now. I suspect that there will be a gag order that will be uh placed um as part of this and we'll see what the next steps are. But Mr Beman Fried's rope is running out on this. And I think this judge is close to putting him in jail, in your opinion. Is this gag order a direct result of these leaked diary entries that The New York Times published or is it a slow, a slow burn that led up to this? Well, I'm actually surprised I've been in uh in very high profile cases where the gag orders were imposed at the very beginning and outset and given the international media attention in this case. I'm sort of surprised that there wasn't one at the very beginning. All right. And if, if it's proven true, um could those diary leaks amount to an instance of witness tampering here and maybe unpack what this actually means for the trial? Well, witness tampering as a crime requires an intent to dissuade a witness to testify. I think it in this case, it was more of an attempt to undercut her credibility. Uh So I don't think it, it really rises to the level of the crime of witness intimidation, but it certainly is an attempt to get to her general credibility as a witness, her bias and motivations. And it also is a warning shot to other witnesses. Look, I've got a lot of information about you and this is a warning shot and I think that's why the judge in this case has to impose this gag order and stop the parties from talking. And how might it affect uh the jury, how might it affect, how might it affect jury selection in these types of high profile cases? The jury is going to have heard just about everything possible on, on this case. I don't think that, you know, the case law is pretty clear that the pretrial publicity, it's, it's very difficult to sort of create a case where you cannot find a jury pool that would be fair and able to sit for this type of case. So in a city like New York, I expect that they'll be able to find a jury. And I don't expect that the media attention will really ultimately impact the ability to find a fair jury. And in those um, diary entries that were leaked to the New York Times, we, we heard Caroline Ellison say that she didn't think that she was suited to be running the company. We, we heard a lot about the inner workings of the company that have come out in various different, um, aspects, uh, leading up to this trial. What do you anticipate is going to happen? We have Caroline Ellison as a star witness for the prosecution. What do you anticipate is going to happen when this starts in October? Well, you know, there's been a lot of focus on the fact that she is going to be the star witness. She's not going to be the only star witness there, there will be others that certainly have already pled guilty. A lot of the prosecution's case is going to rely upon text messages, written, email, communications, things that are going to corroborate the, uh, the facts that ultimately are part of the crime here. So it's not just gonna be based upon her spoken word, it's gonna be based upon other people's statements and the interactions of the various witnesses that will prove this fraud, Michael. We're going to have to leave it there. Thanks so much for joining me this morning. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. That was ZFC Law co-founder, Michael ZW.

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