Federal prosecutors for the trial against former crypto executive Sam Bankman-Fried are seeking to call former FTX customers, investors, and employees, as confirmed by the Department of Justice in recent filings. The customers and investors who owned FTX shares can provide insight into their expectations regarding the custody of their funds by FTX. Additionally, cooperating witnesses can shed light on their interactions with Bankman-Fried and their understanding of his statements and actions. The testimony of these witnesses is crucial as it directly relates to the issues in dispute and helps establish how reasonable individuals would have interpreted Bankman-Fried’s representations of FTX’s treatment of customer assets.
The prosecution intends to call retail customers and institutional clients who transferred significant amounts of assets to FTX with the expectation that the exchange would safeguard these funds. However, the identity and number of prospective witnesses have not been disclosed. Among the cooperating witnesses are former FTX Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang, former FTX Head of Engineering Nishad Singh, and former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, all of whom have pleaded guilty to charges tied to the exchange and are willing to testify. Another former FTX executive, Ryan Salame, has pleaded guilty but has not yet agreed to testify. The DOJ also plans to call at least two more witnesses under a grant of immunity, but their identities haven’t been made public.
One of the customer witnesses, referred to as “FTX Customer-1,” resides in Ukraine and faces challenges in traveling to the U.S. due to legal and logistical reasons, particularly amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine. In light of the circumstances, the DOJ is requesting permission to conduct testimony via video conference, supervised by a U.S. government official, potentially at the embassy. However, the defense has expressed disagreement with this motion, complicating the situation further.
In summary, the upcoming trial involving Sam Bankman-Fried will see the testimony of former FTX customers, investors, and employees. Their accounts will shed light on their expectations and interpretations of Bankman-Fried’s actions and statements regarding FTX’s treatment of customer assets. The DOJ also aims to present witnesses who will testify about the significant transfers of assets made to FTX by both individual and institutional clients. While logistical challenges arise from overseas witnesses, the prosecution seeks to arrange testimony via video conference, a move opposed by the defense.