SBF lawyers want help from FBI agents as they seek to shift narrative in court

Quick Take

  • Defense lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried say testimony from former subordinates Gary Wang and Nishad Singh at trial was “inconsistent” and want to question the FBI agents who interviewed them previously. 
  • If approved, the FBI agents will testify before Bankman-Fried himself takes the stand on Thursday.

Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried want FBI special agents Luke Booth and Kristin Allain to testify in court tomorrow before the failed crypto tycoon takes the stand himself.

In the first preview of the defense's strategy after weeks with prosecutors at the helm of the ongoing criminal trial, lawyers for Bankman-Fried said they believe his former co-founder Gary Wang and head of engineering Nishad Singh testified inconsistently with what they earlier told the FBI. They want to include the original FBI interviews into evidence and also summon the agents to testify.

According to a letter sent to the judge on Wednesday, the defense argued that both Wang and Singh "denied having made or claimed not to recall having made the statements" recorded in earlier FBI interviews. They have both pleaded guilty to charges and have been cooperating with the government in its case against Bankman-Fried. 

In one instance, the defense argued that Wang told the FBI that "the allow-negative flag was added to Alameda as part of their role as a market maker." In court, he said market making was not the only purpose of that feature. In several other instances, Wang and Nishad said in court they didn't remember saying the exact words from their FBI testimonies.

Wang, who is cooperating with the government, might be "pressured or incentivized to minimize an innocent explanation for special codebase features that benefited Alameda," which would be beneficial for Bankman-Fried, the lawyers say. 

Hazy memories


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As for Singh, he earlier told the FBI that his memories of the summer 2022, when he was sorting out Alameda Research's troubles, were "hazy." However, in court, he offered detailed recollection of the events, the lawyers said.

"Mr. Singh may feel obliged to support the Government’s narrative around events in June 2022, even though he had previously claimed to have a 'hazy' memory of that specific time period," the letter says.

Singh also seems to have changed his mind about buying a $3.7 million house in the Bahamas just weeks before FTX collapsed, which did not seem wrong to him at the time of the FBI testimony, according to the defense lawyers. In court, he described the purchase as "egregious, unnecessary, and selfish."

The lawyers believe these contradictions undermine Wang and Singh's credibility and support the notion that Bankman-Fried was acting in good faith when he allowed the special privileges for Alameda that have emerged as a centerpiece of the prosecution's case. 

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.

About Author

Anna is a senior policy reporter and assistant editor at The Block. She has a background in political journalism and covered Russian civil society for a range of news outlets in Moscow, including the award-winning newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Before joining The Block, Anna spent the past five years investigating cryptocurrency policies and adoption around the world at CoinDesk. Anna owns bitcoin and a gift NFT of sentimental value.


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