Sam Bankman-Fried’s Lawyers Are Doing Just Fine, Actually


Within the three weeks since his trial started, Sam Bankman-Fried, founding father of crypto trade FTX, has watched in close to silence as a parade of ex-colleagues, friends and different witnesses have taken the stand. They’ve testified to his greed, recklessness, bullying and chicanery. His legal professionals have supplied comparatively little in the way in which of riposte—and have been pilloried for it. However the technique and ambitions of the protection, ex-prosecutors say, have been misinterpreted.

Bankman-Fried is charged with a number of counts of fraud in reference to the collapse of FTX. The trade fell to pieces in November after customers discovered they may not withdraw their funds, price billions of {dollars} in combination. The cash was lacking, the US authorities claims, as a result of Bankman-Fried had swept it right into a sibling firm, Alameda Analysis, the place it was used to bankroll high-risk crypto trades, enterprise bets, private loans, political donations, debt repayments and different bills.

Tasked with defending Bankman-Fried are Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell of legislation agency Cohen & Gresser, which focuses on company and white collar circumstances. Their cross-examination of key prosecution witnesses—significantly Caroline Ellison, CEO of Alameda and one-time girlfriend to Bankman-Fried—has been described within the press as “meandering,” “confused,” and “lacklustre”. The protection has additionally aggravated the choose with repetitious questioning, groundless objections and requests for sidebars: “I’ve given you a variety of latitude,” choose Lewis Kaplan advised the protection on October 5, “however you’re sporting out the welcome.”

In a case like this, although, says Joshua Naftalis, a former US prosecutor and companion at legislation agency Pallas Companions, the place the proof in opposition to the defendant appears “unbelievably overwhelming,” the protection isn’t anticipated to have it straightforward. It’s “unfair,” subsequently, to recommend Bankman-Fried’s counsel is “fumbling it,” says Naftalis. “They’ve been dealt a difficult hand.”

In its opening assertion, the protection implied it could attempt to defend Bankman-Fried by undermining the credibility of key witnesses, deflecting blame for fraudulent acts onto members of his internal circle, and demonstrating he acted in a method that any rational businessperson may need. A lot of the criticism of the protection has centered on its failure to realize the primary goal: to name into query the reliability of the insider witnesses, who will profit from plea offers in trade for his or her testimony.

Ellison left the stand virtually unscathed, as did Gary Wang, FTX co-founder and CTO. On October 17, the protection scored solely minor factors in opposition to Nishad Singh, FTX director of engineering, who had testified to his misery on the reckless spending of FTX, but in addition, Cohen identified, took a big private mortgage from the corporate after having found the alleged theft of buyer funds.

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