Oct 4, 2023 - Economy

The SBF criminal trial witness list is loaded with friends and enemies

Two men, US attorney Damian Williams on the right, walking outside a courthouse.

U.S. attorney Damian Williams arrives at court in New York on Wednesday, Photo: Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The people nearest and dearest to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (and those who aren't anymore) could be called to testify in his criminal trial.

Why it matters: Followers of the case have been eagerly awaiting a witness list, but the one read to potential jurors Tuesday — Day 1 of U.S. v. SBF — is only a teaser for who may actually take the stand.

Between the lines: That list is a veritable kitchen sink, according to Daniel Silva, former federal prosecutor and now lawyer at Buchalter's San Diego office.

  • The constitution requires that prosecutors give notice of possible witnesses to the defendant so they can adequately prepare a defense.
  • "What some prosecutors do is next-level prosecution chess," Silva says. "They'll put certain challenging or otherwise very important witnesses on there to get the defense to prepare for that person, knowing full well they won't call them."

Details: The list includes Sam Trabucco, the former CEO of Alameda Research; SkyBridge Capital's Anthony Scaramucci; SBF's mother Barbara Fried; his father Joseph Bankman and his brother Gabriel.

  • Trabucco was the biggest surprise — in part, because he's been MIA since narrowly escaping the collapse of FTX by leaving in August 2022.
  • Others on that list included people already expected to take the stand: Caroline Ellison, who ran Alameda alongside Trabucco before he left, and former FTX engineering director Nishad Singh.
  • And it included entities, like venture funds and crypto companies, some of which were hurt by FTX's collapse.

The bottom line: Bankman-Fried is facing seven fraud and conspiracy charges that could have him sentenced to prison for a century.

Go deeper: Disgraced FTX founder gets no plea deal as New York trial begins

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