Jury selection for FTX founder's fraud trial narrowed to 50

Jury selection for FTX founder's fraud trial narrowed to 50

The selection of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried's criminal trial is set for a second day, with the pool of qualified jurors now narrowed to 50, from which 12 will be selected by Wednesday morning.

As the former crypto mogul's innocence is tarnished, a number of potential jurors have resisted themselves for reasons that might biased their judgment. For others, that bias was exacerbated by losing money in crypto-something FTX's collapse greatly exacerbated last year.

Zal Dang, a 29-year-old, said he was not sure he could remain unbiased in a crypto-related case. I've felt negatively about it since I learned about it, he said.

Judge Lewis Kaplan asked if any of the jurors were familiar with FTX and its sister hedge fund Alameda Research, noting that the case would be about 'crypto' and 'blockchain'. Two of the candidates admitted to having invested in the asset class only to lose money.

Some others disclosed more peripheral career ties to the broader financial industry. One claimed to work with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, another with Bank United, and another with Morgan Stanley, a bank once bullish on collapsed crypto bank Silvergate, which was deeply entrenched with FTX.

Kaplan said the exchange's collapse had created a lot of publicity and warned jurors to avoid all media coverage of the trial. When asked if they were familiar with any of the significant names connected to the bankruptcy-- including Silvergate, Anthony Scaramucci, Caroline Elison and others--one juror said she had worked for the fallen bank.

SBF faces charges of conspiracy and fraud, including stealing his clients by lending their deposits to Alameda without their permission.

Experts contacted by Decrypt last week didn't like his chances of acquittal given the powerful witness testimony and evidence already amassed by prosecutors. However, some said the jury's lack of knowledge of crypto may cause enough uncertainty to make the jury hesitate before convicting the exchange founder.

It is pretty hard to convict beyond a reasonable doubt, said Brian Newman, an attorney at the law firm Dykema Gossett.

When one juror asked why he didn't understand crypto well, Judge Kaplan was not so sympathetic.