SBF’s lawyers signal need to push back October criminal trial

Lawyers representing FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried have flagged it may be necessary to delay the criminal trial for the former crypto exchange executive — to give him more time to prepare his defense.

In a Mar. 8 letter to United States District Judge Lewis Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said they weren’t formally for a date change just yet, but it may be needed as they’re still awaiting a “substantial portion” of evidence to be turned over to them and more charges had been laid against the FTX founder in late February.

The criminal trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 2 and will focus on the fraud charges brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to the letter, DOJ prosecutors are holding evidence from devices belonging to Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of FTX’s sister trading firm Alameda Research and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, an FTX co-founder.

Both Ellison and Wang have pleaded guilty to fraud charges and are cooperating with the DOJ.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said they are also waiting for contents from “computers belonging to two other former FTX/Alameda employees.” They anticipate the production of the evidence from the devices “will be voluminous and critically important to the defense.”

Excerpt from the letter to Judge Kaplan requesting an amended trial schedule. Source: CourtListener

The letter also noted the superseded indictment against Bankman-Fried unsealed on Feb. 22 that bumped the number of charges from eight to 12, with new charges relating to conspiracy and fraud.

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to the original eight charges brought against him in December 2022.

One of Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Christian Everdell, wrote in the letter:

“Depending on the volume of the additional discovery and the timing of the productions, it may be necessary to request an adjournment of the trial, currently scheduled to begin on October 2, 2023.”

“While we are not making such an application at this time, we wanted to note this issue for the Court now,” Everdell added.

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Bankman-Fried is currently released on a $250 million bond. He has been under house arrest in Palo Alto, California at his parent’s house and his online activities are restricted.

The schedule for the trial and bail conditions will be discussed at a hearing on Friday, Mar. 10.

The FTX founder alsfaces separate fraud-related civil lawsuits from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) — both have been delayed until after Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial.