Judge on Thursday granted a request from prosecutors to try some of their charges against Sam Bankman-Fried in a second trial next year separate from his scheduled Oct. 2 trial over the collapse of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
Bankman-Fried, 31, will be tried on March 11, 2024, on five counts, including bank fraud and bribing Chinese officials, that federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought after he was extradited from the Bahamas in December, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said in a written order. FTX was based in the Caribbean nation.
The onetime billionaire has pleaded not guilty to 13 fraud and conspiracy charges. An initial eight-count indictment filed in December accused him of stealing billions of dollars from FTX customers to plug losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund, lying to investors and lenders, and violating U.S. campaign finance laws.
Bankman-Fried has acknowledged inadequate risk management at FTX, but has denied stealing funds.
He had asked Kaplan to dismiss the five post-extradition charges, along with the campaign finance charge, because the Bahamas did not consent to them. Alternatively, he suggested they be tried separately.
Prosecutors on Wednesday said they would support a separate trial for the post-extradition charges because it was not clear when the Bahamas would grant its consent, as is required under an extradition treaty between the two countries.
Indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried exits United States Court in New York City, New York, U.S., The campaign finance charge will still be part of Bankman-Fried’s Oct. 2 trial, according to Kaplan’s order. See also Salesforce pledges to invest $500M in generative AI startups Spokespeople for Bankman-Fried and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on Kaplan’s order. In a hearing earlier on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, Kaplan appeared skeptical of Bankman-Fried’s push to dismiss the charges, saying the former crypto star may lack standing to invoke the extradition treaty.
“You have a major problem,” Kaplan told Mark Cohen, one of Bankman-Fried’s lawyers. “Whatever the Bahamas’ complaints about the United States may or may not be, the question is whether your client has any right to raise them.” Separately, Kaplan denied Bankman-Fried’s request to force prosecutors to review some of FTX’s files. Bankman-Fried had wanted a declaration that FTX’s current leadership was part of the “prosecution team,” which would compel the company to turn over documents for his defence.