– U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that prosecutors can present Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations as evidence in his fraud trial.
– The judge deemed the evidence relevant to establishing Bankman-Fried’s motive and alleged fraudulent intent.
– Kaplan also approved the prosecution’s motion to introduce evidence regarding Bankman-Fried’s involvement in the creation of the FTX Token and alleged manipulation of its price.
– Bankman-Fried had initially been charged with breaking campaign finance laws but the charges were later dropped as part of an extradition agreement.
– The judge granted Bankman-Fried’s lawyers permission to question government witnesses about their recreational drug use with prior notice to the court.
– The defense will be allowed to cross-examine witnesses on certain “privileged” issues, and Bankman-Fried will not be able to discuss certain personal details before the jury.
Prosecutors from the United States Department of Justice will be allowed to surface the details of Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations as evidence in his fraud trial, according to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The judge ruled that the evidence is directly relevant to Bankman-Fried’s alleged fraud charges. The decision was part of a series of rulings made by Kaplan regarding the admissibility of evidence in the upcoming trial.
Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, had initially been charged with conspiring to break U.S. campaign finance laws along with seven other fraud and conspiracy charges. However, those charges were dropped as part of an extradition agreement with the Bahamas.
Judge Kaplan stated that evidence of Bankman-Fried spending FTX customer funds on political contributions is considered direct evidence of the wire fraud scheme. It is relevant to establishing Bankman-Fried’s motive and alleged fraudulent intent. Kaplan also approved the prosecution’s motion to introduce evidence related to Bankman-Fried’s alleged role in creating the FTX Token (FTT) and manipulating its price through Alameda Research and its former CEO Caroline Ellison.
The alleged manipulation of cryptocurrency tokens, which resulted in a manipulation of Alameda’s balance sheet, is considered an act done in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy and is therefore part of the charged act. Kaplan further noted that Bankman-Fried’s alleged directive to Ellison to manipulate the price of FTT is direct evidence of their relationship of mutual trust. The judge concluded that the probative value of this evidence outweighs any risk of unfair prejudice.
In addition to these rulings, Kaplan granted Bankman-Fried’s lawyers permission to question government witnesses about their recreational drug use, as long as they provide prior notice to the court. Government witnesses include Caroline Ellison, former FTX engineer Nishad Singh, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang.
Kaplan also denied the DOJ’s motions to block the defense from cross-examining witnesses on certain privileged issues. Additionally, he ruled that Bankman-Fried would not be able to discuss his pre-trial detention, family background, wealth, or age before the jury.
Overall, the judge’s rulings allow the prosecution to present evidence related to Bankman-Fried’s political donations and alleged manipulations in the FTX Token, while also granting some leeway to the defense in questioning witnesses and limiting certain discussions during the trial.