FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Faces Potential Two Criminal Trials

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Key Takeaways

  • Amongst the total 13 charges,Five of those charges will now be split off into a second trial on March 11, 2024,
  • The charge split comes after the DOJ sought a waiver from Bahamian authorities to include five additional charges in the trial of SBF after his extradition.

FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, is facing the possibility of two separate criminal trials as a federal judge granted a request by prosecutors to delay a trial on some charges until next year. The delay comes after Bankman-Fried was already scheduled to face trial in October for charges brought against him last year. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan has now set a March 11 trial date for him on newer charges filed earlier this year.

The decision to schedule two trials was made after prosecutors indicated that they would only proceed with the newer charges if authorities in the Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried was initially arrested, agree to it.

The judge’s actions followed Bankman-Fried appearing before Kaplan as his lawyers argued for the dismissal of charges alleging that he and other top executives cheated investors and misappropriated FTX customer deposits to fund extravagant lifestyles. While Kaplan seemed skeptical of some of the arguments presented by the defense, he did not immediately rule on the matter.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thane Rehn informed Judge Kaplan that the charges brought in a rewritten indictment in February and again in March require approval from Bahamian authorities to comply with the terms of the U.S. Extradition Treaty activated during Bankman-Fried’s extradition from the Bahamas in December.

The split in charges arises as the Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors have requested a waiver from Bahamian authorities to try Bankman-Fried on the five additional charges imposed after his extradition from the country.

Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyers sought to dismiss the new charges, arguing that he could not be tried on charges made after his extradition. Among the new charges is an allegation that Bankman-Fried directed the payment of $40 million in bribes to a Chinese official or officials to release $1 billion in frozen cryptocurrency in early 2021.

Rehn stated that prosecutors would only proceed with the new charges if they obtained the waiver, citing diplomatic considerations. He expressed confidence that the waiver would be granted, as discussions with Bahamian authorities prior to the unsealing of the superseding indictment had led prosecutors to believe so.

The trial based on the original indictment is expected to last four to five weeks, about a week shorter than it would be if the new charges were included. In a court filing on June 14, prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed their intent to proceed with trying Bankman-Fried on the eight charges brought against him in December 2022.

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Saniya Raahath
Saniya Raahath

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