Bankman-Fried plans to place partial blame on previous legal advice in October trial

Quick Take

  • Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried plan to argue that he was given legal advice on matters including auto-delete policies and loans to FTX and Alameda which made him believe he was “acting in good faith.”
  • The strategy comes a day after Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to seven counts and his lawyer said the former billionaire was just eating peanut butter, bread and water in jail. 

Lawyers for former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried are planning to try and shift the blame to previous legal counsel of the failed crypto exchange when his trial starts up in October. 

Specifically, lawyers representing jailed Bankman-Fried said they plan to “elicit evidence” that lawyers from Fenwick & West LLP and in-house counsel were involved in “reviewing and approving” certain decisions. 

They plan to argue the exchange's lawyers gave Bankman-Fried legal advice on matters including auto-delete policies and loans to FTX and Alameda Research, which made him believe he was “acting in good faith.”

“Evidence of the defendant’s reliance on counsel is relevant to the question of intent and is not limited to situations where the defense can establish that the defendant formally sought out the advice of counsel, received legal advice, and followed the advice given,” the lawyers said on Wednesday in a court filing

Fenwick did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Block. 

The former billionaire was sent to await trial in jail earlier this month after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering by leaking the private diary of a former colleague and ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, to the New York Times and using an encrypted message app to contact a potential witness. 

Judge Lewis Kaplan for the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York granted Bankman-Fried's request on Wednesday to meet with his attorneys in person daily, according to Inner City Press

Lawyers representing Bankman-Fried asked the judge last week to allow him to work at the courthouse five days a week to review materials with them ahead of his trial. His lawyers said his ability to review certain documents in prison is restricted by not allowing him access to Google Docs or email and limiting how many days he can review discovery. 

Peanut butter, bread and water

Bankman Fried’s lawyer Mark Cohen told the court on Tuesday that his client was being served a “flesh diet,” consisting of bread, water and sometimes peanut butter, according to Inner City Press. Cohen also said Bankman-Fried wasn’t receiving his Adderall, which the judge said they would also look into.  

Bankman-Fried also pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to seven counts, according to Inner City Press. The former FTX CEO faces over 100 years in prison if he is convicted on a slew of charges including fraud, over allegations that he and other FTX executives used billions of customer assets to make their own failed investments. FTX filed for bankruptcy late last year. 

Disclaimer: 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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