U.S. Justice Department Agrees to Try Sam Bankman-Fried on Original Charges

U.S. Justice Department Agrees to Try Sam Bankman-Fried on Original Charges – Currently, the U.S. Department of Justice plans to proceed with prosecuting Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of FTX, on the eight charges filed against him in December 2022. In a recent statement, DOJ prosecutors mentioned that they will focus on a limited set of charges, such as wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering, due to the Bahamas court’s intervention, which prevented the local government from pursuing additional charges.

Bankman-Fried is confronted with a total of 13 charges, out of which five were issued as superseding indictments in February and March 2023. Recently, in one of his motions to dismiss, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys argued that for the former CEO to face trial on these additional charges, which involve bank fraud, operating an unlicensed money transmitter, and bribery, the government of the Bahamas must provide consent. 

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This requirement stems from Bankman-Fried’s arrest in the Bahamas and subsequent extradition to the United States last year. The government’s ability to proceed with additional charges has been temporarily halted by a court in the Bahamas until Bankman-Fried’s defense team can contest the approval. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams and his team conveyed in a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that the legal battle in the Bahamas court might persist until Bankman-Fried’s trial in the U.S.

These charges are counts four (fraud on FTX customers tied to derivatives), six (securities fraud against FTX investors), nine (conspiracy to commit bank fraud), 10 (conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitter business) and 13 (conspiracy to bribe foreign government officials) in the latest superseding indictment. 

Those original charges include counts one (conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX), two (wire fraud on customers of FTX), three (conspiracy to commit fraud on FTX customers tied to derivatives), five (conspiracy to commit securities fraud against FTX investors), seven (conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research), eight (wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research), 11 (conspiracy to commit money laundering) and 12 (conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and defraud the Federal Elections Commission).

“In light of the uncertainty concerning when The Bahamas will render a decision with respect to specialty, and to simplify the proof at trial and decrease the burden of trial preparation on the defendant, the Government is prepared to proceed to trial as scheduled on the counts contained in the original Indictment,” the letter said. The prosecutors have requested a trial date for the additional charges in the first quarter of 2024. Currently, Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for this October. 

Bankman-Fried’s defense team has submitted additional motions seeking the dismissal of most of the other charges on various grounds, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) has countered their arguments. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET to present oral arguments regarding the motions to dismiss. The DOJ letter was initially reported by Inner City Press. 

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Additionally, prosecutors filed a second letter on Wednesday night addressing the allegations made by Bankman-Fried’s team regarding the incomplete provision of requested discovery materials by the DOJ. As per the second letter, the Department of Justice (DOJ) asserts that it has indeed provided the majority of the requested discovery materials. However, the DOJ acknowledges encountering delays due to various reasons, including technical issues.

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