Cryptocurrency may shape Sam Bankman case

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Cryptocurrency may shape Sam Bankman case

While the virtual currency itself is not in trial, strong sentiments about the virtual currency may be shaping Sam Bankman-Fried's criminal trial.

During an otherwise plodding day of jury selection Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, several potential jurors shared some of their feelings about cryptocurrency.

Several members of their family or friends have invested in cryptocurrency in general. One potential juror, who was eventually dismissed, said he would harbor bias in the case because he and his twin brother each experienced major financial losses after investing in cryptocurrency.

In the case, another potential juror said he believed he harbored a bias because of 'everything negative' he has heard about the tokens.

He said he is not sure I could be totally unbiased about crypto given the history and everything negative I've heard about it.

Strong feelings about cryptocurrency were not relevant in the case, Kaplan said. Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried, a billionaire who invented FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange he started, cheated on customers and investors. By commingling funds to Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency hedge fund he also controlled, they say, he did it by combining the funds with Alameda Research.

Kaplan said jurors would be tasked with determining whether Bankman-Fried's actions fell within the legal parameters of fraud.

After that man said he believed he would be biased - and explained that he has just started a new job and is supposed to be the best man at an upcoming wedding - Kaplan dismissed him from the case.

lawyers and Kaplan must choose 12 jurors and six alternates for the trial, which is scheduled to last six weeks. They whittled the group of around 170 down to about 50 eligble jurors, which would be narrowed to 18 on Wednesday morning before opening statements.

The recent collapse of FTX, or Bankman-Fried's case, isn't exactly disqualifying as a juror. Several potential buyers said they had learned about the case through news media and podcasts. None said they were a customer or loan lender with FTX or Alameda Research.

The prospect jury told a jury that she worked at Insight Partners, which she said lost money from investing in FTX and Alameda Research.

She did not have any personal dealings with the company and could be impartial in the case by deciding on the basis of the facts. She didn't immediately dismiss Kaplan from the jury pool, but did before the end of the day.

A different potential juror said he doesn't understand the cryptocurrency, how it works, even after asking his son to explain it to him.

She responded dryly, saying that he was a longtime friend of Kaplan's.

After he said 'all I can think of is the Madoff case', he said the prospective juror had been dismissed.

Other jurors raised different concerns. A potential juror told investigators that she would have a problem rendering a guilty verdict if Bankman-Fried faced the death penalty.

The trial is not, Kaplan said, a death penalty case. She appeared comforted to learn that.

Kaplan did not mention that Bankman-Fried faces a possible - if unlikely - sentence of more than 100 years in prison.