Trump aide scaamucci, father Bankman-Fried among potential witnesses

Trump aide scaamucci, father Bankman-Fried among potential witnesses

Sam Bankman-Fried's father and brother, along with Donald Trump's former spokesman Anthony Scaramucci, are among possible witnesses at the cryptocurrency exchange founder's fraud trial, according to a list read by a prosecutor in court on Tuesday.

Scaramucci, Bankman-Fried's father Joseph Bankman and his brother Gabriel Bankman-Fried were on a list of potential witnesses prosecutor Danielle Sassoon read in court at the outset of Bankman-Fried's trial in order to see if any prospective jurors knew them.

The list includes both proposed prosecution and defence witnesses, and there is no guarantee that those named will testify.

The trial, which will begin about six weeks next month, comes almost a year after FTX's collapse stunned markets and tattered Bankman-Fried's reputation. The selection of 12 panelists and six alternates is to continue on Wednesday, followed by opening statements.

Federal prosecutors say Bankman-Fried embezzled from customers at his FTX cryptocurrency exchange since its founding in 2019 to prop up his hedge fund Alameda Research, buy luxury properties and donate more than $100 million to U.S. political candidates.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of conspiracy and money-laundering. He has acknowledged inadequate risk management, but denied stealing funds. His lawyers have signalled in court papers that FTX's handling of customer funds was proper, and that others at FTX and Alameda bore the bulk of the blame for their failure.

In Trump's administration, Scaramucci served as a White House communication director. SkyBridge Capital, a private investment firm, once held a controlling interest in FTX.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan appointed a pool of nearly 50 qualified jurors, excluding several who had personal or professional obligations or otherwise thought they could not be fair. He included a man who said he and his brother each lost money through cryptocurrency investments.

At the outset of the proceedings, Kaplan told Bankman-Fried that it would ultimately be his choice whether to testify in his own defence and asked Bankman-Fried whether he understood.

Three former members of Bankman-Fried's inner circle - Alameda co-chief Caroline Ellison and former FTX executives Gary Wang and Nishad Singh - reached plea deals with the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and are set to testify against him.

The jury could also hear from former FTX chief operating officer Constance Wang, former Alameda co-chief Sam Trabucco, and Ryan Salame, the former chief executive of FTX's Bahamian affiliate, according to Sassoon's list.

Salame pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy charges and did not agree to co-operate.

Bankman-Fried has been detained since August 11, after the judge found that he had probably engaged in witness tampering, including by sharing Ellison's personal writings with a reporter. Former romantic partners include Ellison and Bankman-Fried.