Jury Directions Begin in Sam Bankman-Fried Criminal Trial – The closing arguments for the criminal trial of Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the disgraced founder of the crypto exchange FTX, have officially concluded, and U.S. Southern District of New York Judge Lewis Kaplan has now moved on to jury instructions.
According to the indictment issued last December, Bankman-Fried is facing a total of seven charges, which include two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit campaign finance violations.
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During his instructions to the jury, Judge Kaplan clarified that counts one and three pertain to charges involving a scheme to defraud FTX customers using interstate wires and a scheme to defraud lenders to Alameda Research using interstate wires, and these charges are considered substantive, meaning they are alleged crimes that are not dependent on each other.
“The government need not prove that the victim actually was harmed, only that the defendant [Sam Bankman-Fried] contemplated some harm,” said Judge Kaplan. “The defendant need not have participated in the scheme from the beginning.” Seemingly to address SBF’s previous defense of relying on the advice ofFTX counsel Daniel Friedberg, Judge Kaplan told jurors that “a lawyer’s involvement does not in itself constitute a defense.” Instead, “Intent may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.”
Furthermore, Judge Kaplan stated that for conspiracy charges in count two and count four, “it is sufficient if two or more people came to a common understanding to violate the law.” However, he warned that “mere presence at the scene of a crime, or being friendly with a criminal, is not a crime.”
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In the midst of the ongoing criminal trial, several prominent FTX executives, such as former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, former FTX Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang, and former FTX Head of Engineering Nishad Singh, have all admitted their guilt in connection to the collapse of the exchange in November. They are presently assisting the U.S. government by providing testimony against SBF. If found guilty, Bankman-Fried could potentially be sentenced to a maximum of 115 years in prison. Jury deliberations are expected to commence shortly after the lunch break.