In a legal battle that has captivated the cryptocurrency community, the defence strategy of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been laid bare in a recent letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan. Dated August 23, 2023, the letter responds to the court’s directive to address the government’s call for additional disclosures tied to the proposed advice-of-counsel defence. With high stakes and legal precedent at play, Bankman-Fried’s legal team is making waves with their steadfast stance.
The crux of the defence’s argument hinges on the principle of “counsel advice,” a strategy they view as pivotal in their fight for Bankman-Fried’s innocence. Their response unequivocally asserts that the government is not “entitled” to a deeper dive into the specifics of their proposed defence or the evidence showcasing Bankman-Fried’s reliance on counsel. By leaning on established rules and case law, the defence contends that the government’s request surpasses its authority.
A particularly contentious point arises from the defence’s previous bid to secure records from Fenwick & West LLP, the external counsel representing FTX and Alameda. These records were deemed “relevant” to the charges in the indictment, but the court’s denial left the defence with a critical gap in their evidence arsenal. It’s a point of frustration that the defence doesn’t shy away from, especially in light of the government’s subsequent request for documents they impeded access to.
Undeterred by obstacles, the defence is forging ahead with its strategy. They’re poised to present evidence showcasing Bankman-Fried’s awareness of key legal figures such as Dan Friedberg, Can Sun, and Ryne Miller. These individuals, intricately involved in reviewing and approving decisions tied to the case, are central to the defence’s mission to prove good faith and challenge the government’s claims of criminal intent.
Legal scholars draw parallels to the precedent-setting case of Howard v. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where counsel reliance was interpreted as a sign of “good faith.” The defence deftly aligns Bankman-Fried’s situation with this case, underscoring the role of counsel awareness in dismantling allegations of wrongdoing.
While the letter’s provided list isn’t exhaustive, it hints at the defence’s intention to unearth similar evidence through government disclosures and trial proceedings. They argue that these disclosures sufficiently notify the government of the nature and scope of the reliance evidence they plan to wield.
As the courtroom drama unfolds, all eyes are on FTX founder Bankman-Fried. Facing a dozen criminal charges, his legal battle is set to be divided into two trials. The first, slated for October 2023, will set the tone for the proceedings to follow in March 2024. With the defence’s strategic approach now unveiled, the legal arena is gearing up for a clash of legal minds that could redefine the contours of cryptocurrency-related litigation.