DOJ readies witnesses in Bankman-Fried trial, spotlight on FTX assets


The Department of Justice (DOJ) has affirmed its plan to summon former FTX clients, investors, and staff as witnesses in the upcoming trial involving Sam Bankman-Fried, the former FTX executive. This will shed light on how these individuals viewed their interactions with Bankman-Fried and his company. 

The DOJ submitted a letter motion in limine on Sept. 30, to enable them to get the interpretation of the witnesses on FTX’s treatment of customer assets, which will hold significant importance.

Importantly, these testimonies are intended to provide valuable perspectives on the interactions between the accused and these witnesses. This initiative also encompasses their comprehension of Bankman-Fried’s remarks and conduct, particularly regarding FTX’s asset management. The DOJ intends to emphasize the experiences of both retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX with the belief that the platform would safeguard them securely.

Court filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Source: CourtListener

Furthermore, a distinctive situation has emerged concerning one of the DOJ’s witnesses, referred to as “FTX Customer-1,” who resides in Ukraine. Given the ongoing conflict, there are difficulties associated with traveling to the United States to provide testimony. Consequently, the DOJ has suggested using video conferencing as a viable alternative. However, Bankman-Fried’s defense has not yet approved this proposal.

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Nonetheless, the legal team representing Bankman-Fried, led by lawyer Mark Cohen, has voiced concerns about the jury questions put forth by the DOJ. According to Bankman-Fried’s defense, these interrogations insinuate guilt on Bankman-Fried’s part, potentially undermining the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Additionally, the defense contends that these inquiries may not effectively uncover the jurors’ inherent biases, especially if related to their personal encounters with cryptocurrencies. Moreover, certain questions could inadvertently guide the jury’s perspective instead of eliciting authentic insights, possibly compromising the trial’s impartiality.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyer challenges US gov’t proposed jury questions

With the jury selection scheduled to start on Oct. 3, closely followed by the trial, the spotlight is firmly on this high-stakes legal confrontation. This case underscores not only its immediate consequences but also underscores the vital importance of transparent communication and unbiased questioning in upholding the principles of justice.

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