July 23, 2024
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Judge rules that Sam Bankman-Fried’s political contributions may be revealed during the trial.

Despite the abandonment of campaign finance charges in July, the prosecution has secured the right to introduce evidence of Sam Bankman-Fried’s political contributions in his upcoming fraud trial.

The United States Department of Justice prosecutors have received permission from U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to bring to light the specifics of Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations. This revelation is directly pertinent to his fraud allegations.

This decision was just one in a series of determinations made by Kaplan in a comprehensive pretrial order spanning 16 pages, dated September 26. The order aims to clarify the admissibility of various pieces of evidence in the impending fraud trial of FTX founders, scheduled to commence on October 3.

Initially, federal prosecutors had charged Bankman-Fried with conspiring to violate U.S. campaign finance laws, alongside seven other charges related to fraud and conspiracy. However, these charges were later dropped as part of an extradition agreement with the Bahamas.

“The revelation that the defendant utilized FTX customer funds for political contributions stands as direct evidence of the wire fraud scheme. It is crucial in establishing the defendant’s motive and alleged fraudulent intent.”

In addition to permitting discussions on Bankman-Fried’s campaign donations, Kaplan has also given his nod to the prosecution’s motion to present evidence elucidating Bankman-Fried’s purported involvement in the creation of the FTX Token and his alleged directives to Caroline Ellison, then-CEO of Alameda Research, for manipulating the token’s price.

Kaplan’s words on the matter were, “The alleged manipulation of cryptocurrency tokens, leading to an alleged manipulation of Alameda’s balance sheet, constitutes an act ‘done in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy’ and is, therefore, regarded as ‘part of the very act charged.'”

“Furthermore, the defendant’s alleged instructions to Ms. Ellison to manipulate the FTT price provide direct evidence of their ‘relationship of mutual trust.’ The probative value of this evidence outweighs any concerns of potential unfair prejudice. It is admissible,” Kaplan concluded.

While Kaplan has granted several submissions of evidence for the Department of Justice, he has also sanctioned Bankman-Fried’s legal team to question government witnesses about their recreational drug use, provided they provide prior notice to the court.

The list of government witnesses includes Caroline Ellison, former FTX engineer Nishad Singh, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang.

Additionally, Kaplan has rejected the DoJ’s requests to bar the defense from cross-examining witnesses on certain “privileged” matters. Furthermore, he has ruled that Bankman-Fried will not be permitted to delve into the details of his pre-trial detention, family background, wealth, or age when presenting his case to the jury.