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Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers seek to block Ukrainian witness from testifying

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Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried are trying to block a Ukrainian customer from testifying at the failed crypto exchange founder’s trial, arguing that such testimony would “serve only to elicit the jury’s sympathy and outrage.”

In a letter submitted on Monday, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said the Department of Justice’s earlier request to permit an FTX customer, who is in Ukraine, to testify remotely should be denied.

“The proposed testimony that is unique to this witness would apparently reference hardships and individual circumstances created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the lawyers added.

Bankman-Fried’s counsel argued that the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause gives him the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him,” and that the Confrontation Clause reflects a “preference” for face-to-face, in-court testimony.

On Saturday, the DOJ requested that the court permit the Ukrainian witness to testify remotely as the witness “has unique circumstances that make international travel for testimony even more problematic.”

The witness 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,” the prosecutors said.

“FTX’s popularity and widespread use by diverse customers across the world is not in dispute,” the DOJ added. “Testimony from at least some FTX customers from varying locations, backgrounds, and with varying motivations for selecting and using FTX is relevant to establishing the vast reach that FTX — and by default, the defendant’s promotional efforts and public statements — had on the cryptocurrency community.”

Seeking clarity

Also on Monday, Bankman-Fried’s counsel filed a letter to request clarification on the court’s previous granting of the DOJ’s request to preclude argument concerning whether FTX was regulated within the United States and FTX.US’s compliance.

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys also wanted to know whether he would be able to present his “prior good acts” such as charitable giving and philanthropy, and whether he could offer evidence concerning asset recovery in the FTX bankruptcy proceedings. 

His lawyers were also seeking clarification on the court’s grant of the DOJ’s request to “admit evidence concerning the alleged illegal campaign finance scheme.”

Bankman-Fried’s trial is set to begin on Tuesday with jury selection.

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.

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