The upcoming trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX cryptocurrency exchange, took an unexpected turn as prosecutors requested permission for a Ukraine-based FTX customer to testify remotely. However, Bankman-Fried’s defense team vehemently opposed this proposal, indicating their non-consent. In a court filing over the weekend, the prosecutors sought authorization from Judge Lewis Kaplan to include witness testimony via two-way video teleconference, but their request was ultimately denied.
The FTX customer in question, referred to as “FTX Customer-1” by prosecutors, resides in Ukraine. This individual is described as a young male who suffered significant financial losses when his life savings entrusted to FTX were affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Due to the country’s regulations during wartime, FTX Customer-1 is legally unable to leave Ukraine, as men fit for combat are prohibited from doing so.
Given the circumstances, FTX Customer-1 could potentially seek a special exemption from Ukrainian authorities to exit the country. However, even with approval, the journey would not be easy. Prosecutors estimated that travel time for the FTX customer would span approximately three days in each direction, requiring a complex route through an ongoing war. Neither the spokesperson for the prosecutors nor Bankman-Fried’s media representative provided any comments on the matter.
The federal prosecutors argued that testimony from international witnesses, such as FTX Customer-1, is crucial in comprehending the global impact and nature of the FTX crypto-exchange. They emphasized the challenge of coordinating international authorizations to allow testimonies in the United States, as FTX customers are dispersed worldwide. The logistical difficulties involved in obtaining these authorizations, coupled with the complexity of international travel arrangements, were described as exceedingly complicated within the court document.
As the trial date rapidly approaches, Bankman-Fried has been held in a New York jail after his bail was revoked by a judge due to allegations of witness tampering. The trial is scheduled to commence in a matter of days and is expected to continue until November 9th, according to the court calendar.
The decision to deny the Ukraine-based FTX customer’s remote testimony in the criminal trial of Sam Bankman-Fried has sparked controversy. Prosecutors argued the importance of international witnesses given FTX’s global presence, but Bankman-Fried’s defense team objected, leading to the denial of the request by Judge Lewis Kaplan. The trial’s outcome hangs in the balance as the proceedings unfold and the potential implications on the global cryptocurrency market are monitored closely.