Sam Bankman-Fried opposes Ukraine FTX victim testifying remotely, lawyers tell trial judge

0
273

Former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, walks outside the Manhattan federal court in New York City, U.S. March 30, 2023. 

Amanda Perobelli | Reuters

Sam Bankman-Fried does not approve of prosecutors’ request to allow a Ukraine-based FTX customer to testify remotely in the criminal trial, which is set to start on Tuesday.

In a court filing Saturday, prosecutors asked Judge Lewis Kaplan for permission to include witness testimony via two-way video teleconference, though Bankman-Fried’s defense said it “does not consent” to it.

The FTX customer in question, who prosecutors refer to as “FTX Customer-1” in the filing, is “a young male, located in Ukraine … who lost a substantial portion of his life savings that he had entrusted to FTX when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.”

FTX Customer-1 cannot travel out of Ukraine due to the country’s war-time law, which prohibits men deemed fit for combat from leaving.

He could try to obtain a special exemption from Ukraine officials to exit the country, but even then, prosecutors estimated the travel time for the FTX customer would be around three days in each direction and would require a complicated route through an ongoing war.

A spokesperson for the prosecutors declined to comment. Bankman-Fried’s media representative also declined to comment.

The federal prosecutors maintained that testimony from international witnesses is important to understanding the global nature and influence of the FTX crypto-exchange.

“Due to FTX’s international popularity, many of the FTX customers are dispersed across the world, making the coordination of international authorizations to permit testimony in the United States and international travel arrangements exceedingly complicated,” prosecutors said in the court document.

Bankman-Fried has been awaiting his trial, which is due to begin in just a few days, in a New York jail after a judge revoked his bail over alleged witness tampering. According to a court calendar, the trial will last until Nov. 9.