FTX Founder’s Expert Witnesses Face Exclusion in Fraud Trial

FTX Founder’s Expert Witnesses Face Exclusion in Fraud Trial – The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a request to prevent all seven of Sam Bankman-Fried’s proposed expert witnesses from giving testimony in his upcoming fraud trial. The federal prosecutors raised concerns about the reliability of these witnesses and alleged that they had improperly provided their viewpoints on Bankman-Fried’s mental state. 

Contained within the 39-page motion, the Department of Justice (DOJ) contended that the witnesses’ perspectives were merely a veneer of expertise masking inadmissible secondhand testimony about the defendant’s alleged lack of awareness or intention to commit a crime. The prosecutors objected particularly to the intended testimony by British barrister Lawrence Akka, who aimed to interpret FTX’s terms of service.

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They argued that such testimony could confuse the jury and encroach upon the court’s responsibility to guide on legal matters. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) considered Indiana University professor Bradley Smith’s planned presentation about campaign finance laws as needless and unrelated.

Additionally, the government criticized the qualifications of financial services consultant Peter Vinella, highlighting his lack of expertise in the field of cryptocurrencies. Moreover, the prosecutors argued that the expert disclosures for technologist Thomas Bishop and metadata specialist Brian Kim were inadequate, as they only offered vague descriptions rather than specific viewpoints.

The DOJ maintained that software engineer Joseph Pimbley’s testimony about issues within FTX’s internal systems was not pertinent. Likewise, the DOJ found Stanford University professor Andrew Di Wu’s proposed overview of the cryptocurrency market to be unnecessary, contending that factual witnesses could provide the background information in question. 

In its entirety, the motion from the Department of Justice contended that the number of experts lined up by Sam Bankman-Fried could potentially befuddle jurors and deliver testimony that inappropriately insinuates the absence of criminal intent on the part of the FTX founder. 

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Prosecutors sought the court’s intervention to either exclude these witnesses entirely or, at the very least, conduct pre-trial Daubert hearings to assess their level of expertise. The process of selecting jurors for Bankman-Fried’s trial, which revolves around charges of fraud and conspiracy, is scheduled to commence in October.

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