On October 9, 2023, the legal team of Samuel Bankman-Fried, represented by COHEN & GRESSER LLP, submitted a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The letter was filed in response to the court’s October 1 order, which provisionally restricted the defense from discussing the involvement of FTX lawyers in the case without prior notice to the court and the government.
Defense Seeks to Question Gary Wang
The defense is specifically interested in cross-examining Gary Wang, a former FTX co-founder, about the involvement of FTX lawyers in structuring loans issued to him by Alameda Research. During the initial cross-examination on October 9, Wang revealed that he had received personal loans worth approximately $200-$300 million from Alameda Research. These loans were used to fund venture investments by FTX and to purchase a house in the Bahamas.
Topics for Cross-Examination
The defense aims to question Wang on several topics, including:
1. Which attorneys were involved in the loans?
2. What was the nature of their involvement?
3. What documents did they prepare?
4. What were the terms of the loan and Wang’s obligations under it?
Implications for the Case
The defense argues that Wang’s understanding of the lawyers’ involvement is directly relevant to establishing Bankman-Fried’s good faith and lack of criminal intent. The government has alleged that Bankman-Fried took steps to conceal the origin of investments and expenditures funded by transfers originating with Alameda Research.
The indictment further alleges that Bankman-Fried accomplished this by borrowing over $1 billion from Alameda and overseeing “similar borrowing by other FTX executives.” Wang’s understanding that these were actual loans, structured by lawyers and memorialized in formal promissory notes, is relevant to rebut the inference that these were simply sham loans directed by Mr. Bankman-Fried to conceal the source of the funds.
The defense’s request to question the involvement of FTX lawyers aims to counter the government’s allegations and establish Bankman-Fried’s lack of criminal intent. The court’s decision on this matter could significantly impact the ongoing case, particularly in relation to the money laundering charges. If the court grants the defense’s request, it may open the door for further questioning that could potentially exonerate Bankman-Fried.
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