Jury selection for Sam Bankman-Fried fraud trial begins

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Jury selection for Sam Bankman-Fried fraud trial begins

The fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried began on Tuesday with voir dire, during which the judge declared that a complete jury should be selected by the end of the day or, at the latest, by Wednesday morning.

Bankman-Fried, the controversial cryptocurrency mogul who was once a billionaire and a key figure in the political world during the 2020 election, has been charged with orchestrating a multi-billion-dollar fraud scheme. He appeared in a lower Manhattan court on Tuesday.

While in custody, he is awaiting his first criminal trial, almost a year after the collapse of the crypto empire FTX.

Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, appeared in court wearing a coat and tie, with his hair neatly trimmed following a recent haircut.

The morning was dedicated to selecting a jury from a pool of 50 prospective jurors and disqualifying those with conflicts of interest or medical issues, in a bid to seat a 12-member panel and six alternates capable of rendering a fair judgment for both the defense and prosecution.

senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

Judge Kaplan dismissed several potential jurors, saying that a full jury of 12 individuals and six alternates would be seated by the end of the day or by Wednesday morning.

The judge addressed the 31,-year-old crypto mogul before the jurors, reminding him that the decision to testify or not was solely his own decision.

It's your call... You need to understand that, Kaplan told SBF on condition of anonymity.

Prosecutor Nicolas Roos informed the court that the two sides had not discussed a potential plea deal and that no offer had been extended to Bankman-Fried. Mark Cohen, the attorney for the crypto executive, confirmed that the decision was made public.

The trial, described as one of the most significant fraud trials in U.S. history, is expected to last up to six weeks.

Three former members of Bankman-Fried's inner circle, referred to as his generals, are expected to provide their testimonies.