Sam Bankman-Fried plans to lean on ‘counsel advice’ defense in criminal trial
Sam Bankman-Fried said lawyers, including those from Fenwick and West, "reviewed and approved" many of the decisions for which he now faces consequences.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried intends to blame “counsel advice” provided by the company’s internal legal team and Fenwick & West, a prominent Silicon Valley law firm, in his case against the U.S. government.
In an Aug. 23 letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers wrote that their client received legal advice from Fenwick in making some of his decisions, including using auto-delete features and ephemeral messaging applications like Signal. The lawyers also pointed out that the law firm provided legal advice on other issues, including the loans given to FTX and Alameda executives and intercompany payments between FTX and Alameda.
According to the lawyers, Bankman-Fried was acting in “good faith” as Fenwick Lawyers and in-house counsel for FTX, including Dan Friedberg, Can Sun, Ryne Miller, and others, were involved in reviewing and approving decisions related to these matters and others. They added:
“Evidence of the defendant’s reliance on counsel is relevant to the question of intent and is not limited to situations where the defense can establish that the defendant formally sought out the advice of counsel, received legal advice, and followed the advice given.”
Fenwick is a leading U.S. law firm focused on the technology and life sciences sectors. Some of the law firm’s major clients include Coinbase, OpenSea, and Meta.
Fenwick was yet to respond to CryptoSlate’s request for comment as of press time.
Meanwhile, the letter also blamed the U.S. Department of Justice’s request for more information, noting that the government had hindered the defense team from getting appropriate documents that would have aided its case from Fenwick.
The lawyers said:
“It is galling that the Government is requesting specific documents from the defense when the Government helped ensure that we could not obtain these very documents.”
On Aug. 22, Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges, with his lawyers complaining about the poor prison conditions. His trial is set to begin in October.