Trump spokesman, father and brother among potential witnesses at FTX trial

73
3
Trump spokesman, father and brother among potential witnesses at FTX trial

Sam Bankman-Fried's father and brother, and 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 Prosecutors Danielle Sassoon read in court during jury selection at the outset of Bankman-Fried's trial to see if any prospective jurors knew them.

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

The trial, which is expected to last about six weeks, comes just a year after FTX's collapse shocked markets and tattered Bankan-Fried's reputation. The selection of 12 jurors and six alternates is set to continue on Wednesday, followed by opening statements.

Federal prosecutors said Bankman-Fried had embezzled from customers at his FTX cryptocurrency exchange from its founding in 2019 to its bankruptcy in November 2022, in order to prop up his hedge fund Alameda Research, buy luxury properties and donate more than $100 million to US political candidates.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of conspiracy and fraud. He has acknowledged insufficient risk management, but denied stealing funds. His lawyers have signaled they plan to argue 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 the White House's communication director. SkyBridge Capital, his investment firm, once owned a controlling interest in FTX.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan selected nearly 50 qualified jurors, after dismissing several who had personal or professional obligations or otherwise thought they could not be fair. The man said he and his brother each lost money through cryptocurrency investments.

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

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

The jury may also hear from former FTX officers Daniel Friedberg and Ryne Miller, former head of FTX's Bahamian unit, former Alameda co-chief Sam Trabucco and Ryan Salame, the former chief executive of FTX's Bahamian subsidiary, according to Sassoon's list.

In a statement, Salame admitted to conspiracy charges but did not agree to cooperate.

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