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Sam Bankman-Fried’s Legal Team Raises Concerns Over Trial Preparations

Trent Alan
Last updated: | 2 min read
Sam Bankman-Fried FTX founder
Source: Video Screenshot, YouTube / CBS News

Sam Bankman-Fried’s attorneys have raised concerns regarding the measures taken by authorities for their client’s upcoming criminal trial in October. In an August 25 submission to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the legal representatives argued that the measures proposed by the prosecutors were not adequate for the FTX founder to fully prepare for his trial.

Behind the Scenes: A Closer Look at the Discovery Process

The heart of the matter pertains to the discovery materials related to the case. On August 24, the U.S. Justice Department provided approximately 4 million pages of these materials. However, according to the defense, there are still “millions of pages of documents and terabytes of data” left to be reviewed by Sam Bankman-Fried. 

“We do not believe that anything short of temporary release will properly address these problems and safeguard Mr. Bankman-Fried’s right to participate in his own defense,” the defense stated. “Before his bail was revoked, Mr. Bankman-Fried was spending 80-100 hours a week reviewing the voluminous discovery and creating detailed analyses that he could update constantly and share with his attorneys.” 

For about eight months, following his extradition from the Bahamas and subsequent arraignment in the U.S. in December 2022, Sam Bankman-Fried was out on a $250-million bond. 

His freedom, however, was short-lived. After claims of witness tampering involving former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison surfaced, a federal judge decided to revoke the FTX founder’s bail. Since August 11, Bankman-Fried is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Legal Battles and Restrictions

Ever since the revocation of his bail, the defense has been advocating for fewer limitations, seeking more time for their client outside the detention center to prepare for his trial. 

On August 21, a judgment permitted Sam Bankman-Fried approximately seven hours in a New York courthouse cell block attorney room on August 22. Following this, another order was passed allowing him access to the same room with internet facilities, provided the defense gave notice in advance.

The legal team emphasized SBF’s need for continuous online access, stating, “Mr. Bankman-Fried needs constant access to an internet-enabled computer that allows him to review documents from discovery, look up relevant context for the evidence online, draft and edit work product analyzing the documents and data, and share these documents and analyses with his attorneys.” 

They further indicated that the current arrangements fall short of these requirements.

Upcoming Trials: What Lies Ahead

The FTX founder is set to face two separate trials. The first, scheduled for October 3, will address seven charges linked to alleged fraudulent activities concerning user funds at both FTX and Alameda Research. The subsequent trial, planned for March 2024, will include five additional criminal charges.

Court documents suggest that Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense might argue that their client took actions based on legal advice he received. This advice, purportedly from the law firm Fenwick & West and FTX’s internal legal team, allegedly led to some communications between FTX and Alameda employees being automatically erased.

As the trials approach, the defense’s arguments and the prosecution’s responses are expected to shape the narrative around these high-profile cases. The outcome will undoubtedly have implications for Sam Bankman-Fried and perhaps the broader cryptocurrency industry.