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The trial of the former CEO of the defunct crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), began yesterday with the jury selection taking place. In line with this, the court proceedings began with the voir dire process, with certain revelations made on the first day in court.
How Day 1 Of SBF’s Trial Went
In a live tweet of the proceedings, Inner City Press (which usually reports proceedings in the Southern District of New York) noted that Sam Bankman-Fried appeared to court in a “much shorter hair.” The FTX founder is known to have a signature curly hairstyle. However, he seems to have ditched it ahead of his trial.
Before the prospective jurors came into the courtroom, Judge Lewis Kaplan, the judge in charge of the case, informed Sam Bankman-Fried that he had the right to testify in his defense and could stand up if he wished.
From the report by Inner City Press, the prosecution said both parties had no plea discussions before now, and there was no plea offer. SBF’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, confirmed that the statement was accurate. Sam Bankman-Fried has maintained his innocence, so it’s understandable why no plea deal has been considered.
Meanwhile, while addressing the prospective jurors, Judge Kaplan stated that contrary to the estimated trial duration of six weeks, the case could take a shorter time as most of his cases rarely take as long as most lawyers think.
He read SBF’s charges to them and informed them that he would ask all the questions, although both parties had the right to eliminate some prospective jurors without giving a reason. To determine if there were any bias, he asked if they had any personal knowledge of the case.
Some answered in the affirmative, as one of the jurors mentioned that the company they worked for invested in FTX and Alameda and lost money from their investments. Another mentioned that he had heard of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX during his job search for investment banking firms but noted that he could still be fair. Another stated that he had personally invested in crypto and had lost money.
After the interrogatories were done, with several prospective jurors weeded out, the court was left with 50 qualified jurors. Judge Kaplan stated that the final selection would be on October 4, with 18 jurors expected to be selected (12 and 6 alternates.)
Witnesses From Both Sides
During the jury selection, the Prosecution read out the names of some persons who may testify (for the prosecution or defense) or are related to the case. The list included names like Alameda Research’s ex-CEO, Caroline Ellison, FTX’s co-founder Gary Wong, Nishad Singh, Mark Tiano, John Gluber, and Anthony Scaramucci.
The prosecution also named companies like Sequoia Capital, BlockFi, Genesis, Skybridge, Anchorage, Binance, Celsius, Silvergate, and Signature Bank as having an interest in the case.
Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have objected to the DOJ’s plan to summon FTX customers and investors as witnesses. They argue that the motion is premature. Furthermore, they have objected to the prosecution’s second motion letter requesting the court to allow a Ukrainian FTX customer who lost a huge part of his life savings to FTX to testify remotely.
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Featured image from The Economist, chart from Tradingview.com