On May 8, lawyers representing FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) filed a motion in the Southern District Court of New York to dismiss 10 out of the 13 criminal charges against him. The high-profile case is scheduled for trial in October.
Focus on Three Main Conspiracy Charges
SBF’s legal team is urging the court only to consider three counts of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Crypto researcher Molly White commented on the development, noting that some additional charges were added after SBF’s extradition agreement had been finalized.
Initially, SBF was extradited from the Bahamas to the U.S. to face eight criminal charges related to alleged fraud and money laundering. His lawyers argue that four of the five new charges added since February violate the “rule of specialty provision” stipulated in the extradition treaty.
The “rule of specialty” generally binds the requesting state (in this case, the U.S.) to only try the extradited individual (SBF) for the offenses for which they were deported. SBF’s lawyers contend that this rule was not waived and that it was expressly acknowledged during the extradition proceedings in the Bahamas.
Additional Charges Under Scrutiny
The four contested charges involve conspiracy to commit bank fraud and separate wire fraud charges linked to SBF’s alleged activities at FTX and Alameda. The most recent charge, added on March 28, pertains to a Chinese government official’s alleged $40 million bribery.
Additionally, SBF’s lawyers seek to dismiss other charges related to “conspiracy to defraud the United States” and charges associated with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They argue that these counts fail to state an adequate offense.
According to SBF’s legal team, the initial indictment delivered through a Diplomatic Note does not correctly “specify the violation” concerning campaign financing laws. Moreover, it fails to “reference any U.S. bank accounts, including any bank accounts affiliated with FTX or Alameda” concerning the wire fraud charges.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan will hear arguments on the dismissal request on June 15, and prosecutors have until May 29 to respond.
SBF Maintains Not Guilty Plea
While the rest of SBF’s inner circle has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, SBF maintains his innocence and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Since December, SBF has been under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto. Recently, Judge Kaplan approved wiretaps on SBF’s parents’ phones as a means of meeting bail conditions, despite objections from SBF’s legal team.