All Sam Bankman-Fried's proposed witnesses should be blocked from testifying: DOJ

Quick Take

  •  The Department of Justice wants to stop all seven of Sam Bankman-Fried’s proposed expert witnesses from testifying at his upcoming trial, citing doubts about their credibility and reliability.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has called for all seven of the expert witnesses that Sam Bankman-Fried has proposed for his upcoming trial in October to be barred from testifying.

The proposed experts and their accompanying disclosures have various shortcomings, the DOJ said in a court filing late Monday. Some disclosures lack the basic presentation of expert opinions and most lack the necessary foundation for their opinions in line with federal rules, the law enforcement agency argued. Even when opinions are disclosed, they do not meet the criteria for expert testimony, lack reliable methods or factual basis, or are irrelevant, which risks confusing the jury, the DOJ added.

The seven proposed witnesses are Lawrence Akka, a British barrister; Thomas Bishop, president of consulting firm Tom Bishop & Associates LLC; Brian Kim, director at consulting firm Guidepost Solutions; Joseph Pimbley, principal at Maxwell Consulting; Bradley Smith, a professor at Capital University Law School; Peter Vinella, managing director at consulting firm PVA Toucan International; and Andrew Di Wu, assistant professor at Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York "should exercise its gatekeeping authority and preclude" testimonies of all the seven proposed expert witnesses, the DOJ said.

The DOJ's witnesses

The DOJ itself will call at least two witnesses — Gary Wang and Nishad Singh — Bankman-Fried's former colleagues, who both have pleaded guilty. "They are lay witnesses who are competent to testify about the [FTX's] code, and relevant and admissible questions the defendant has about the code may be put to these witnesses during cross-examination," the DOJ said in the filing.

Bankman-Fried's trial will begin on Oct. 3. He is currently in jail following multiple fraud charges after his crypto empire, FTX Group, suddenly collapsed last November. Earlier this week, Bankman-Fried's attorneys urged the court to grant his temporary release from jail to review documents ahead of his upcoming trial or at least to allow him to meet with his legal team five days a week. Bankman-Fried is currently able to meet with his lawyers in a room at the courthouse just two days a week.

If convicted during the trial, Bankman-Fried faces over 100 years in prison on several charges, including fraud over allegations that he and other FTX executives used billions of customer assets to make their own failed investments.  

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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