Sam Bankman-Fried’s testimony to challenge government claims, lawyer tells judge

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s upcoming testimony has been outlined in a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan by his lawyer, Mark Cohen.

In the letter submitted by Cohen to inform the court of the planned testimony during Bankman-Fried’s direct examination, the defense requested approval to obtain testimony regarding Bankman-Fried’s awareness of counsel’s participation in specific matters, following the court’s order from Oct. 1, 2023.

FTX, FTX US and Alameda Research entered bankruptcy proceedings on Nov. 11, 2022, with Bankman-Fried resigning as CEO. He was arrested in the Bahamas on Dec. 12 after the United States government formally notified the country of charges against him. Meanwhile, FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison agreed to plead guilty to the charges made against them and are cooperating with the government.

Bankman-Fried’s testimony would challenge government allegations, particularly concerning counsel involvement in events such as auto-deletion policies, creating north dimension entities, the payment agent agreement, loans from Alameda and drafting FTX terms of service.

The defense argues that Bankman-Fried’s understanding of legal counsel’s involvement is relevant to his state of mind and good faith. Furthermore, they assert that his knowledge of industry practices is essential to demonstrate his belief in acting in line with accepted norms.

According to the letter, Ellison’s acknowledgment of providing manipulated data, former FTX chief technology officer Gary Wang’s claims of Bankman-Fried’s involvement in enabling Alameda to “withdraw unlimited funds,” and former FTX engineering director Nishad Singh’s testimony about Alameda’s “excessive” celebrity endorsements purchases, underscore the significance of Bankman-Fried’s testimony regarding his intentions on Nov. 12, 2022, to counter inferences drawn from prior witness statements.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried has no way to ‘outfox’ prosecutors: Scaramucci

Furthermore, the letter notes that the defense plans to have Mr. Bankman-Fried testify about his sincere intentions regarding his compliance with directives from Bahamian authorities. This testimony would revolve around his belief that Bahamian authorities prioritized FTX customers’ well-being and that FTX’s in-house and U.S. bankruptcy counsel had potential conflicts of interest.

The United States government is expected to wrap up its case against Bankman-Fried on the morning of Oct. 26, with defense attorneys likely finishing the following day. Prosecutors added they were uncertain whether rebuttal witnesses would be necessary depending on Bankman-Fried’s testimony. Closing arguments could be held before Oct. 31.

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