Sam Bankman-Fried could be delayed in FTX fraud trial

Former FTX CEO Bankman Fried in New York court

Sam Bankman Freed, founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, arrives in court as lawyers seek to convince the judge overseeing his fraud case not to jail him before trial, in a court in New York, US, August 11, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Muñoz Obtain licensing rights

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge said on Wednesday he would consider postponing Sam Bankman-Fred’s criminal fraud trial to Oct. 3, after lawyers for the imprisoned founder of FTX complained he did not have time to review millions of pages of evidence. to help build his case.

U.S. District Judge Louis Kaplan in Manhattan raised the prospect of a five-month delay at a virtual hearing, after defense attorneys said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn had not provided Bankman Fried with hard drives containing evidence for him to review.

Bankman Fried, 31, has pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from the collapse of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange in November 2022.

Kaplan jailed him on August 11, after finding that the former billionaire likely tampered with witnesses while being held at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, on $250 million bail. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have requested that he be returned to the custody of his parents, so that he can properly prepare for the trial.

“If the defendant feels in good conscience that he needs an adjournment … he can ask for it,” Kaplan said.

The judge said he was unlikely to adjourn the trial based solely on the volume of evidence, and the defense would need to prove a “real and unexpected need”.

He suggested that the trial could be combined with the trial previously scheduled for March 11, 2024, on charges brought following Bankman Fred’s extradition in December 2022 from the Bahamas, including bank fraud and foreign bribery plots.

Bankman Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, said he understands that any motion to adjourn the trial must be made in the next few days.

Kaplan earlier denied a defense request to prevent plaintiffs from using nearly 4 million pages of documents stored on Google that prosecutors turned over last week during trial.

Bankman Fried’s lawyers said their client was not given enough time to weather the flood, denying him his constitutional right to a fair trial.

And while prosecutors at the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan only recently turned over the material because of Google’s delay in responding to the subpoena, Kaplan said the majority came from Fred Bankman’s personal Google account, meaning he had access to it before the bail was revoked.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that the government did not act in good faith,” Kaplan said, and any suggestion that plaintiffs missed deadlines or broke promises to the defense is “grossly exaggerated.”

Danielle Kudla, the attorney general, said her office delivered a hard drive containing evidence of Bankman Fried to the MDC earlier on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Luke Cohen and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Reporting by Mohamed for The Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Jonathan Otis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Reports on the New York Federal Courts. He previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.

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