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Sam Bankman-Fried Has Seven Witnesses Barred From Testifying At Trial

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Sam Bankman-Fried Writes to His Staff - What Did He Have to Say?
Sam Bankman-Fried Writes to His Staff - What Did He Have to Say?

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Seven witnesses proposed by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried were barred from testifying at his trial next month.

Judge Lewis Kaplan said the witnesses failed to meet the necessary criteria for a criminal trial, including lack of clarity regarding their intended testimony and concerns about their suitability for the case. 

A court filing disclosed that one of the witnesses, former Federal Election Commission chair Bradley Smith, was expected to bill Bankman-Fried’s legal team $1,200 per hour to testify on US campaign finance laws and straw donors. The judge also expressed doubts about the qualifications of another witness, Peter Vinella. 

The judge’s decision has raised questions about the defence strategy in the high-profile case. The witnesses also included British barrister Lawrence Akka, Thomas Bishop and Joseph Pimbley, who work for consulting firms; Brian Kim, a data analytics and forensics expert; law professor Bradley Smith at Capital University Law School; and Andrew Di Wu, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan.

The judge also rejected Bankman-Fried’s motion to block a proposed financial analysis from testifying for the prosecution.

Bankman-Fried Witnesses May Be Allowed To Respond To Prosecution Testimony

Judge Kaplan’s ruling does leave an opening for the defence to call some of the witnesses to respond to testimony by prosecution witnesses. To do so though, they must adhere to strict conditions, including providing a complete disclosure at least three days before the relevant witness is called. The DOJ retains the right to object to these witnesses as well.

Bankman-Fried Trial

Sam Bankman-Fried is set to appear in court for his first criminal trial on Oct. 3, and faces seven criminal charges related to the alleged misuse of user funds at FTX and affiliate Alameda Research. He will face an additional five criminal charges in a March 2024 trial. Throughout the legal proceedings, Bankman-Fried has maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty to all counts.

Since his bail was revoked in August, Bankman-Fried has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. His legal team’s recent appeal for early release, was denied by a three-judge panel on September 21st.

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