FTX Co-Founder’s Trial To Feature High-Priced Expert Witnesses Earning $1,200 An Hour

Per a Bloomberg Law report, in an upcoming fraud trial scheduled for October, FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried is preparing to call seven expert witnesses, potentially paying them up to $1,200 an hour, to testify on his behalf. 

According to a letter filed in federal court in Manhattan, these witnesses would testify on campaign finance laws, valuations of FTX and its affiliate Alameda Research, and the crypto exchange’s software infrastructure and terms of service.

The move sheds light on Bankman-Fried’s defense strategy as he faces allegations of orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud. 

FTX Co-Founder’s Defense Takes Shape

According to Bloomberg Law’s report, prosecutors already have a group of Bankman-Fried’s former friends and colleagues ready to testify against him. However, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan revoked his bail in August after finding indications of witness tampering on two occasions.

Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, has not commented on the matter through his spokesperson to Bloomberg. 

Notably, Federal prosecutors seek to block the expert witnesses, arguing that their testimonies would only focus on Bankman-Fried’s alleged lack of criminal knowledge or intent from conversations with others.

The exchange of letters between the prosecution and Bankman-Fried’s defense team also addressed issues such as the conditions of his detention, evidence disclosure, and internet access.

Although the defense sought to exclude discovery material obtained after July 1, the judge rejected the request, stating that accusations of broken promises and missed deadlines were inaccurate.

While Bankman-Fried’s lawyers seek more access to their client, they also enlist expert witnesses to bolster his defense. 

Former Federal Election Commission Chairperson Bradley Smith, charging $1,200 an hour, will provide insights into US campaign finance laws and straw donors. 

Other witnesses could charge between $400 and $1,100 per hour, with financial services industry consultant Peter Vinella opining on widely accepted practices in the financial services industry and Professor Andrew Di Wu discussing blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency market meltdown.

Bankman-Fried’s defense may also employ the advice of counsel defense, arguing that his actions were by the directions of FTX’s attorneys. Three of Bankman-Fried’s closest associates have pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to cooperate with the government.

The allegations against Bankman-Fried involve the commingling of customer funds, diverting exchange funds for loans to executives, real estate purchases, and high-risk trading, which allegedly contributed to the collapse of FTX in November 2022.

As the trial approaches, using expert witnesses and the advice of the counsel defense will play crucial roles in determining the case’s outcome. The battle between the prosecution and the defense intensifies as both sides strive to present compelling evidence and arguments before the court.

Featured image from iStock, chart from TradingView.com

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