Attorneys for former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (also known as “SBF”) are seeking to sever or dismiss six charges from his upcoming trial, claiming that it may take years for courts in the Bahamas to rule on whether they will allow him to be tried for these offenses, according to a June 12 document filed in a New York federal court.
Prosecutors acknowledged on May 29 that they need permission from the Bahamas to try Bankman-Fried for five of the charges he was indicted on since these offenses were not included in the original agreement that allowed him to be extradited to the United States. However, prosecutors stated they were seeking permission from the Bahamian government to try him for these additional offenses.
In response, SBF’s lawyers on June 12 said they had asked the Bahamas Supreme Court to block the government from granting this permission except in accordance with the law. The Bahamas Supreme Court is expected to respond by June 13. In the meantime, the Bahamian court has told a minister in the executive branch not to issue a judgment on the issue, defense attorneys said.
According to the defense, even if the unnamed minister was to provide permission to charge SBF with additional offenses, the defendant would have the right to appeal this decision through the Bahamas courts. This means the process would “likely take several months or years to resolve.” In the meantime, the charges should be dismissed, as they are used to detain the defendant under house arrest.
Defense attorneys also provided an alternative solution to the problem: If the U.S. district court feels that it can’t dismiss the charges, it should sever them from the upcoming trial. This would allow Bankman-Fried to be tried on the seven charges he agreed to be extradited on but none others.
Bankman-Fried was originally charged in December in connection with his management of failed crypto exchange FTX. Prosecutors allege that he commingled customer funds and misled investors about FTX’s risk management practices, leading to losses for investors and customers. Bankman-Fried claims the exchange collapsed because of ordinary management mistakes, not fraud.