On March 8, attorneys working for former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried said his criminal trial scheduled for October 2 may need to be delayed.
They argued that it may take more time than expected to review the evidence and prepare a defense, according to Reuters.
The lawyers sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan stating federal prosecutors in Manhattan had yet to provide evidence. They were collecting data from devices belonging to former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and former FTX technology chief Gary Wang, previously SBF’s closest associates.
Additionally, four new fraud and conspiracy charges were added late last month. This increased the number of counts against the former FTX boss to 12.
Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud in January following his arrest in December.
Credibility of Witnesses Could be Challenged
SBF was released on a $250 million bond and has been under house arrest at his parent’s home in California. Judge Kaplan had considered changing the bail terms after it was discovered that Bankman-Fried had used a VPN to access the internet.
He was previously barred from contacting former FTX employees and using privacy-focused messaging services. However, prosecutors proposed that he remained free with strict limits on his use of technology.
According to his lawyers, part of Bankman-Fried’s defense will be seeking to distance himself from the day-to-day operations of FTX.
They have suggested he will attempt to shift blame onto Ellison and dispute her expected testimony at his potentially delayed trial.
Rebecca Mermelstein, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor, told Reuters, “The defendant is going to say, ‘No, you did it, you’re the one who was the most responsible, and now you’re trying to blame me,’”
Challenging the credibility of cooperating witnesses is a commonly used strategy for defendants who often argue that they are motivated to lie and implicate others in a bid to win leniency.
FTX Legal Fees Nearly $40 Million
In related news this week, it was revealed that the team of lawyers and accountants working for FTX billed a whopping $38 million for their services in January alone.
The epic invoices are for a team of hundreds of lawyers, consultants, paralegals, and accountants, according to court documents.
FTX administrators retained law firm Sullivan & Cromwell as counsel following a billing for 14,569 hours of work for $16.8 million in January.
FTX sued crypto fund manager Grayscale this week in an attempt to unlock as much as $9 billion from its Bitcoin and Ethereum Trusts.