A British barrister, a professor at the University of Michigan and others will not be testifying at former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried's upcoming trial, a district judge ordered on Thursday.
Judge Lewis Kaplan's order gave a glimpse of what may, or may not, be discussed at the trial that's due to start Oct.3. Lawrence Akka, a British barrister, had planned to testify about the meaning of FTX’ terms of services and obligations, but Kaplan said that testimony was inadmissible, according to a filing.
"The opinion of an English barrister as to the meaning or legal effect of contractual language, even language in a contract governed by English law, simply is not a proper subject of a jury's attention,” Kaplan said.
Prosecutors had asked for seven witnesses to be barred from testifying in late August, in part because they said they did not meet the criteria of expert testimony. Also on that list were 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.
All the witnesses in that list were excluded in Thursday's order, with some room given to be able to testify eventually, if certain conditions are met. Government expert Peter Easton will be able to testify and talk about customer fiat deposits, despite pushback from Bankman-Fried's lawyer.
Professor Smith's testimony was inadmissible, Kaplan said, adding that what he planned to talk about was not clear.
"The majority of Mr. Smith's proposed testimony would be irrelevant to the issues at trial, and to the limited extent it would be relevant, its probative value would be substantially outweighed by the risk of confusing the issues or misleading the jury."
Pimbley's planned testimony was excluded as well, but Kaplan noted that he could be called to respond to a government witness.
Vinella's testimony would have focused on "FTX combining aspects of both traditional and decentralized finance in its services," but Kaplan said whether FTX was innovative or not is not at issue in the case.
Bankman-Fried is currently in jail awaiting the trial, following multiple fraud charges 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.
© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.