Sam Bankman-Fried In Hot Water: Defense Can’t Figure Out Next Move After FTX Engineer Testifies

The prosecution in Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) case is expected to rest its case on October 27. Following this, the defense is meant to open its case. However, it remains uncertain whether or not SBF’s lawyers are going to put up a case. If they do, there is every likelihood that they will be restricted in the witnesses or evidence they can adduce. 

Why Sam Bankman-Fried’s Lawyers May Be Indecisive On Next Step

According to a report by the Block, Sam Bankman-Fried’s lead counsel, Mark Cohen, had mentioned in court on October 18 that they were still considering whether or not to put up a case and if they do “of what nature.” Cohen’s statement is significant for several reasons.

For one, there is no denying that they are currently on the back foot in a case where the prosecution seems to have succeeded in establishing its allegations of fraud against Sam Bankman-Fried. Key witnesses like Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh have so far established that Sam Bankman-Fried was always in charge and the brain behind every misappropriation. 

SBF’s lawyers seemed to have hinted, on the second day of the trial, about their defense strategies. One of them was that they were going to argue that their client had acted in good faith and that all the loans to Alameda were permitted. Another was to blame Alameda’s ex-CEO Ellison by stating that Sam Bankman-Fried had advised her to hedge against the fall in crypto prices, which she didn’t. 

This line of arguments, however, seems to be dead on arrival (and SBF’s lawyers may be aware of that) following revelations that have come to light. Their case is not made better by the fact that the defense basically failed to create any hole in the prosecution’s case. Notably, they failed to dampen the credibility (during cross) of Ellison, whom they planned to put all the blame on. 

Nothing Seems To Be Going For Sam Bankman-Fried Defense

The Defense had filed to be allowed to provide evidence of Anthropic’s value to show that some of SBF’s investment ventures were actually profitable (probably in a bid to show good faith). However, that request has been denied as Judge Kaplan instead granted the prosecution’s motion to preclude any evidence or argument relating to that. 

Meanwhile, Judge Kaplan, in response to the defense’s latest demand about SBF’s medication, had mentioned that there was no way he was going to allow Cohen to give Sam Bankman-Fried his drugs in court while the court was in session. 

SBF’s lawyers had seemed to suggest that he was only likely to testify if he was getting his required dose. They noted that the defendant struggled to concentrate due to his inability to take the prescribed dosage during the trial. With this in mind, it is unlikely that the defense counsels will want their client to take the stand if he can’t “meaningfully participate without the drugs.”

Moreso, they will be wary of how that could be disastrous to their case, especially when SBF is put on cross-examination. Any misstatement (in the defense’s context) made by SBF could be the final nail in the coffin as he makes his way to prison.

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