Federal prosecutors have agreed to withdraw several charges against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
The decision — announced in a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan Wednesday (June 14) — is a victory for the accused cryptocurrency fraudster, albeit a short-lived one, as the withdrawal appears to be temporary.
Earlier this week, Bankman-Fried petitioned a court in the Bahamas to dismiss some of the charges brought against him after he was extradited from the island nation — and one-time home to FTX — last year.
“Regardless of the merits of the defendant’s motion in The Bahamas, then, it now appears that litigation of that motion will take some time and may not be resolved until near or even after the trial date,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams wrote in his letter Wednesday.
With that in mind, Williams said the government is prepared to seek a conviction against Bankman-Fried on the initial eight counts filed against Bankman-Fried when his case goes to trial in October. As for the remaining counts, Williams asked the judge to schedule a separate trial for the first quarter of 2024.
Bankman-Fried was arrested late last year following the implosion of FTX, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, and charged with masterminding a multi-billion-dollar fraud.
The indictment against him alleged that Bankman-Fried regularly used FTX customer assets to fund private expenditures “and in the process exposed FTX customers to massive, undisclosed risk.” It also alleged that he “corrupted the operations of the cryptocurrency companies he founded and controlled … through a pattern of fraudulent schemes.”
He has since been charged twice more: in February, for allegations that included bank fraud and running an unlicensed money transmitting service, and then again in March for bribing a Chinese official to unlock an account frozen by that country’s government.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail, housed at his parents’ home in California. The one-time crypto wunderkind has recently filed a pair of arguments intended to free him.
The first is the case before the Bahamian court. The second lays the groundwork for a defense that Bankman-Fried was simply following the advice of his law firm, Fenwick & West, rather than knowingly committing crimes.
Proving that Bankman-Fried consciously acted illegally is a necessary element for many of the criminal charges brought against him by prosecutors.