Sam Bankman-Fried again pleaded not guilty in his fraud case over last year’s implosion of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, this time to a narrower slate of charges, as his lawyers fought for access to their jailed client.
(Bloomberg) — Sam Bankman-Fried again pleaded not guilty in his fraud case over last year’s implosion of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, this time to a narrower slate of charges, as his lawyers fought for access to their jailed client.
The 31-year-old embattled crypto mogul appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday for the first time since a judge revoked his bail after concluding that he likely tried to tamper with two witnesses. He has appealed the ruling but in the meantime is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where his attorneys say he is being deprived of the Adderall he is prescribed.
Dressed in a tan inmate uniform, former FTX co-founder entered his plea to seven counts of fraud and money laundering, contained in a revised US indictment filed on Aug. 14 that cut the number of counts almost by half. The other charges, which weren’t included in an agreement by the Bahamas to extradite him to the US, were split off into a separate case.
Read More: Bankman-Fried Ordered to Face Two US Trials in FTX Fraud Case
Bankman-Fried, who ran his crypto empire from the island country, is accused of orchestrating a yearslong fraud at FTX and its trading affiliate Alameda Research, both of which collapsed in November. He is due to go on trial on Oct. 2.
‘Bread and Water’
Before his $250 million bail package was revoked, Bankman-Fried was living at his parents’ California house. At Tuesday’s hearing his lawyers complained that they were struggling to build his defense without access to him. He hasn’t been permitted to review any of the millions of pages of evidence in the case for the 11 days he has been in the federal lockup, his lawyer Christian Everdell said, calling it a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Everdell said his team had been presented with a plan for Bankman-Fried to review the evidence with his lawyers two days a week from 9 to 3, using a laptop in a cell block in the courthouse, which he said was inadequate.
“It means he cannot help prepare his defense,” Everdell said.
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Bankman-Fried’s other lawyer, Mark Cohen, said his client hadn’t been given any Adderall since he was jailed and has only a few doses left of another prescription drug, the antidepressant Emsam. Cohen also complained that his client’s request for vegan meals had gone unheeded and that Bankman-Fried was still being served a “flesh diet.”
So he is “literally subsisting on bread and water” and a little peanut butter, Cohen said.
Most Serious Charges
The counts on which Bankman-Fried will be tried this year are the most serious he faces. Prosecutors say the alleged fraud scheme cost customers and investors billions of dollars.
Bankman-Fried had contested the validity of five of the 13 counts in an earlier indictment, arguing they weren’t part of the extradition pact that paved the way for his return to the US in December. The government severed those five charges from the trial and dropped a sixth.
The case is US v. Bankman-Fried, 22-cr-673, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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(Updates with details and context throughout, starting in second paragraph.)
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