Sam Bankman Fried (SBF), the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, faced a setback as he sought release from jail before his upcoming fraud trial set to commence next week. Despite his efforts, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan denied his bid for freedom once again.
Judge Kaplan’s Position
As per multiple reports, the decision not to grant SBF release underscores the seriousness of his charges. The fraud trial is expected to shed light on the allegations against him and will be closely watched by both the cryptocurrency community and legal experts. As such, SBF’s attempt to secure freedom before the trial in order to adequately prepare indicates the high stakes involved and the potential impact on his personal and professional life.
Recall that the embattled founder has been staying behind bars at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York for over six weeks. Just a few days ago, the attorney representing SBF asked Judge Lewis to grant him a temporary release so he could prepare for his upcoming trial effectively.
However, the judge deemed it necessary for SBF to remain in jail until the trial proceedings commence, as he believes that the accused CEO may be motivated to flee from the country should he be released during his trial.
Notably, the development puts additional pressure on the 31-year-old entrepreneur and his legal team as they now have limited time to finalize their trial strategy and gather evidence to defend against the charges. This means that the failed entrepreneur will have to navigate the trial from behind bars.
To showcase the grievance of the offense, Judge Kaplan said SBF could face a very long sentence if convicted at his fraud trial next week.
Slim Hope for SBF’s Defense
A few days ago, Judge Lewis made a ruling that banned all seven expert witnesses proposed by SBF from testifying in his trial. Lewis and the US Department of Justice raised objections to the defense’s witnesses, citing reasons ranging from lack of clarity on their testimony topics to unsuitability for a US criminal trial.
Also, the U.S. government pushed back against Bankman-Fried’s defense strategy, deeming it “irrelevant” due to insufficient details. SBF is currently drowning in a series of major criminal charges, which would span two different trial sessions. One of them is set to begin in October, whereas the second one will take place in March 2024.
Currently, the former CEO has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges.