July 21, 2024
Sam Bankman-Fried and Prosecutors File Proposed Jury Instructions for Trial
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Sam Bankman-Fried and Prosecutors File Proposed Jury Instructions for Trial

The FTX founder’s lawyers argue that he behaved in good faith, and a trial is scheduled for October.

A day before his arraignment on a fresh superseding indictment, the US Department of Justice and Sam Bankman-Fried filed duelling sets of jury instructions for the FTX founder’s October trial.

Prosecutors filed the document, dubbed “the government’s requests to charge,” late Monday, modifying from multiple earlier sets of jury instructions, including prior statements from Judge Lewis Kaplan, the judge supervising Bankman-Fried’s case in the Southern District of New York. The FTX founder has pled not guilty to seven distinct accusations, ranging from wire, securities, and commodities fraud conspiracy to money laundering allegations.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filing on Monday details each of the multiple accusations levelled against Bankman-Fried, explaining the distinctions between “substantive crimes” and “crimes of conspiracy.”

A further filing submitted shortly after by Bankman-Fried’s own lawyers implies that he may argue that he honestly believed his use of customer finances was not illegal. The lawsuit implies that his actions were honest mistakes in judgment and management errors rather than crimes, and it plays with the idea that cryptocurrency, which is currently ungoverned, represents an area of legal uncertainty.

“If Mr Bankman-Fried acted in good faith with respect to the use of FTX customer funds and with the belief that, as a business matter, FTX would be able to cover all customer withdrawal requests, he did not act with specific intent to defraud,” the filing said, adding that “it is also not relevant whether you believe certain conduct should have been regulated even though it was not regulated at the time.”

The DOJ had previously disputed Bankman-Fried’s alleged reliance on an “advice of counsel” defence claiming that he believed his conduct was legal based on conversations with lawyers.

According to the DOJ proposal, substantial crimes “charge a defendant with the actual commission or attempted commission… of an offence,” whereas allegations of conspiracy need a deal with another person.

The proposed DOJ jury instructions further indicate what jurors must remember if they vote to convict: there was a plot to defraud, the accused “knowingly and wilfully participated” in this scheme, and the accused used state lines (including the internet).

Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled to begin in early October. After Judge Kaplan withdrew his bond, he was recently returned to jail. According to the judge, the former FTX CEO breached his bail conditions by approaching FTX.US general counsel Ryne Miller and disclosing former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison’s diary with the New York Times.

Image: Wallpapers.com

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