Former FTX CEO, Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried, is slated to testify in what promises to be an intriguing development in his ongoing defense case. Mark Cohen, SBF's attorney, made the announcement during a recent telephone conference which also involved prosecutors and Judge Lewis Kaplan.
On the timeline of proceedings, the prosecution is scheduled to wrap up its presentation on October 26th. Immediately following this, Bankman-Fried's defense team plans to commence its case. Judge Kaplan has green-lighted this sequential approach, enabling a smooth transition from the prosecution’s final witness to the initial witness for the defense.
Witnesses in the Spotlight
Beyond Bankman-Fried's anticipated testimony, Cohen stated that they are prepped to call on three other witnesses. Their lineup includes an attorney from the Bahamas, Joseph Pimbley of the litigation consulting firm PF2 Securities, and a third individual, whose role will be to shed light on the designations and duties of former FTX employees.
Interestingly, while the defense team seems confident in concluding within three days post questioning their witnesses, there’s an air of uncertainty on the prosecutor's end. They are presently unsure about the need for rebuttal witnesses, much of which hinges on the nature and content of Bankman-Fried’s testimony.
Given the current trajectory, closing arguments might very well be on the docket before October 31.
The Question of a Special Verdict
In an unexpected twist, Judge Kaplan brought up the possibility of pursuing a special verdict for this case.
Such a verdict implies that the jury would present its findings based solely on factual issues without indicating which party emerges victorious. Assistant U.S. Attorney, Nicolas Roos, elucidated the government's standpoint.
He pointed out that their primary contention revolves around a solitary substantive wire fraud count tied to customers. He went on to explain, “The theory is that the defendant [SBF] made false representations and was in a trust relationship with depositors and took money”.
Roos emphasized the interconnected nature of these claims, suggesting that the alleged false representations may have fostered an illusion of trust, ultimately betraying the crime's victims. With Bankman-Fried ready to take the stand, all eyes will be on the court as events unfold, and clarity is sought in this high-stakes case.