Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty to Revised Charges

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  • Sam Bankman-Fried has entered a not-guilty plea to a revised set of charges following the revocation of his bail over witness tampering concerns.
  • The former FTX CEO now faces seven counts of fraud and money laundering, a reduction from the previous charges, as part of a revised US indictment filed on August 14th.
  • Bankman-Fried’s legal team is struggling to build his defense due to his bail revocation, citing challenges in accessing him and reviewing evidence.

Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to a revised set of charges a week after his bail was revoked over witness tampering concerns. Appearing in federal court in Manhattan yesterday, the 31-year-old crypto former FTX CEO entered his plea to seven counts of fraud and money laundering, a reduction from the previous number of charges. These charges are part of a revised US indictment filed on August 14 which narrowed the focus of the charges against him.

Prosecutors Narrowed Trial Focus

The charges that Bankman-Fried is set to face in his upcoming trial are considered the most serious, with prosecutors alleging that the fraud scheme he oversaw had significant financial implications for customers and investors, costing them billions of dollars.

Bankman-Fried had previously contested the validity of certain counts in an earlier indictment, arguing that they weren’t covered by the extradition agreement that facilitated his return to the US from the Bahamas. Consequently, the government removed those specific charges from the trial and dropped one additional charge.

The disgraced former FTX boss is also facing civil charges from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and Securities Exchange Commission, which have now been delayed until after the trial, which is set to begin in two months’ time.

Bankman-Fried’s Bail Revocation Affecting His Defense

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys have also raised issues with the revocation of their client’s bail over witness tampering fears. Previously, Bankman-Fried was residing in his parents’ California home under a $250 million bail package, but since being returned to jail last week his lawyers now argue that they are struggling to adequately build his defense without proper access to him.

Ironically, this same argument was used by the attorneys for MtGox CEO Mark Karpelès to secure his release from pre-trial detention in 2016.

Bankman-Fried has been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, since his bail was revoked. His lawyers raised concerns about his inability to review the millions of pages of evidence in the case during the 11 days he has been in custody, asserting that this violates his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Bankman-Fried’s legal team detailed a proposed plan for him to review evidence with his lawyers twice a week using a laptop in a courthouse cell block from 9am to 3pm. However, they consider this arrangement inadequate, claiming that it hampers his ability to assist in preparing his defense.