Just before the criminal trial of Sam Bankman-Fried commences today, his defense team has filed numerous requests asking the judge to reconsider or clarification some of his recent rulings that limit what evidence and arguments they can present.
In a letter dated Oct. 2, Bankman's lawyers argued that FTX was not regulated in the U.S. and followed applicable rules for its U.S. arm, FTX US. The defense contends that this point is relevant to whether funds were misappropriated and Bankman-Fried's intent. The lack of laws restricting the ability of crypto exchanges to use customer deposits supports that the alleged conduct was not illegal.
The defense argued that the judge had no authority to prohibit evidence about assets recovered so far in FTX's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. The defense should allow the defense to refute this by claiming the bankruptcy has been mismanaged. Bankman-Fried's claims of his faith belief that he was meeting customer obligations are now upheld by the court, which has declined the request to bar evidence.
Bankman-Fried's team also asked the judge to clarification the scope of his ruling that prohibiting them from bringing up 'prior good acts' like charity to show character. They note that Bankman-Fried's charitable contributions in his indictment were based on Bankman-Fried's charitable contributions. The defense maintains that they should be allowed to discuss philanthropy if relevant to the case rather than as propensity evidence.
The lawyers also asked for clarification on whether prosecutors can argue that campaign contributions Bankman-Fried allegedly routed through straw donors were illegal. The judge previously exempted the proposed expert testimony on campaign finance laws.
Bankman-Fried's attorneys also argued that allowing a customer in Ukraine impacted by Russia's invasion to testify remotely was a breach of the law. The defense alleges that the extradition treaty with the United States violates Bankman-Fried's right to face his accusers. The defense contends that the unique circumstances of this witness testifying from a war zone would unfairly elicit jury sympathy.
Bankman-Fried faces charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy for allegedly misusing FTX customer funds before the crypto exchange collapsed last year. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of bribery.