DOJ calls SBF’s fraud allegation defense ‘irrelevant,’ requests additional info


The lawyers representing the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a new court document late on Aug. 29 arguing that Sam Bankman-Fried should provide additional disclosures to his planned defense. 

The document called the current proposed argument, which claims his lawyers approved of fraud allegations while he was still at FTX, “irrelevant.”  The filing requests that the court order the defendant to procure “additional notice” and “pretrial discovery.”

“If the defendant does not provide additional disclosures, the court should preclude irrelevant, confusing, and prejudicial questioning, evidence, and arguments about the involvement of attorneys.”

Previously, the lawyers representing SBF argued that the legal team leading FTX led him to act “in good faith” and that “reliance on counsel is relevant to the question of intent.” 

The former legal team behind FTX was hit with a lawsuit on Aug. 7 alleging that it had set up “shadowy entities” which set the executives up to implement “creative but illegal strategies” to perpetuate fraud.

Attorney Damian Williams, who penned the recent letter to the court argued that Bankman-Fried needs to specify the legal advice he was given or else rethink his defense.

The DOJ said the defendant has not provided an “exhaustive” list of the topics there is claimed to be attorney involvement. Additionally, SBF has yet to identify “the contours of the attorney involvement” nor the bases and details of the defense. He also noted the lack of documents in support of, impeaching or undermining his defense. 

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers appeal decision on bail, citing First Amendment issues

The morning after the filing, on Aug. 30, SBF’s lawyer Mark Cohen responded to the DOJ’s filing countering that “sufficient” disclosures had already been made regarding the defense and commented on his client’s conditions in jail violating the U.S. Constitution. 

“At the present time, the defense is unable to adequately prepare for trial and prepare the defense, which is a violation of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s Sixth Amendment rights.”

He also called the available internet connection “woefully inadequate.” On Aug. 23 the court ruled that SBF could meet with his lawyers outside of jail with a notice of 48 hours. 

In response, on Aug. 25 the lawyers pushed for temporary release and objected to the aforementioned deal.

SBF has already pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of fraud in the aftermath of the FTX collapse in November 2022.

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