Sam Bankman-Fried may request to delay his October trial, his lawyers said in a letter to a federal judge this week.
The disgraced FTX founder says he may need more time to review troves of evidence that prosecutors have collected. Bankman-Fried is under house arrest in California on a $250 million bond and could spend the rest of his life in jail if he is convicted on criminal charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
“Depending on the volume of the additional discovery and the timing of the productions, it may be necessary to request an adjournment of the trial, currently scheduled to begin on October 2, 2023,” wrote Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell.
Bankman-Fried has not seen a “substantial” portion of discovery in the case, which includes former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison’s iPhone, FTX co-founder Gary Wang’s laptop, two other laptops that belong to former employees of FTX and Alameda and 30 Google accounts, his lawyers said in a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan. Discovery is the process where lawyers exchange information about the witnesses and evidence they'll present at a trial.
Cell phones and laptops from members of Bankman-Fried's inner circle could be crucial for prosecutors in his criminal case. Ellison and Wang both pleaded guilty in December to criminal charges tied to their roles at FTX and Alameda Research.
Negotiating laptop use
Meanwhile, the former FTX CEO has for months been tied up in a legal dispute over his bail terms. Prosecutors have sought to curtail Bankman-Fried’s internet access after he used an encrypted app to contact a possible witness in his criminal case and a virtual private network, which he claimed he needed to watch the Super Bowl.
A judge will consider tighter bail terms for Bankman-Fried at a hearing on Friday. For now, the former billionaire is banned from using a VPN, contacting current and former FTX employees and using encrypted messaging apps.
The VPN restriction could be an obstacle for Bankman-Fried’s evidence review, his lawyers say. The now-bankrupt FTX has prepared to give Bankman-Fried access to the FTX transactional database, but he can only access it via a VPN on a special computer. The database is referred to as the “AWS Database” in court filings.
“The defense has built a custom laptop with the security protocols required by the FTX debtors and has been ready to send it to Mr. Bankman-Fried for some time,” Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said. “It may take some time before a new laptop computer can be built according to the specifications that the court may impose.”
“Accordingly, we respectfully request that the court order that, in the interim, Mr. Bankman-Fried may use the laptop computer that has already been built, which will be configured to allow him to access the AWS Database, and no other websites, via a secure VPN connection,” the letter added.
The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
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