Judge Lewis Kaplan, representing the Southern District of New York, has given the jury its final directives. This comes at a time when the final countdown to the sentencing of Sam Bankman-Fried, whose trial has been underway since last December, has unofficially begun.
The judge issues the final, and crucial, instructions
According to the indictment, Bankman-Fried faces a total of seven charges, including two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, one count of securities conspiracy, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and violation of campaign finance laws.
Judge Kaplan pointed out to the jury that the first and third charges, which include defrauding FTX customers through interstate connections and defrauding Alameda Research lenders, are specific or cognizable offenses that require no other proof.
“The government does not have to prove actual harm to the victims, but only the defendant’s intent to cause any harm,” – Judge Kaplan stated. “The defendant does not have to be involved in all aspects of the crime from the outset.”
Circumstantial evidence sufficient argument
The judge referred to SBF’s previous defense arguments, which focused on the opinion of FTX counsel Daniel Friedberg. In doing so, it was made clear that the involvement of any lawyer in SBF’s activities does not constitute a defense in itself. Instead, intent to act can be inferred from the circumstances and accompanying circumstantial evidence.
In addition, Judge Kaplan stressed that in the case of the conspiracy charges in the second and fourth counts of the indictment, “it is sufficient that two or more persons entered into an agreement to violate the law.” However, he also pointed out that “being present at a crime scene or being friends with a criminal does not in itself constitute a crime.”
Bankman -Fried with potential long sentence
During the ongoing criminal trial, key FTX executives, including former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, former FTX chief technology officer Gary Wang, and former FTX head of engineering Nishad Singh, have all pleaded guilty to charges related to the collapse of the exchange last November and are now cooperating with the US government by testifying against the SBF. If Bankman-Fried is found guilty, he faces a sentence of up to 115 years in prison. It is estimated that a decision on his future could come as early as Monday, November 6.