- Sam Bankman-Fried refused a request by lawyers in federal court to allow a Ukraine-based witness to testify via video conference.
- Prosecutors said the FTX client could not testify in person because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
- The criminal trial against the former FTX CEO began Tuesday and will last until November.
Former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges in connection with the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, walks outside Manhattan federal court on March 30, 2023 in New York City.
Amanda Perobelli | Reuters
Sam Bankman-Fried refused prosecutors’ request to allow a Ukraine-based FTX client to testify remotely in a criminal trial set to begin Tuesday.
A filed in court On Saturday, prosecutors asked Judge Lewis Kaplan for permission to include witness testimony via two-way video conference call, but Bankman-Fried’s defense said it “did not agree.”
The FTX client in question, referred to by prosecutors as “FTX Client-1,” is “a young man living in Ukraine … who lost a significant portion of his life savings entrusted to FTX in Russia. It invaded Ukraine in 2022.”
FTX Client-1 cannot travel outside of Ukraine due to the country’s wartime laws, which prohibit the departure of men deemed unfit for combat.
He could try to get a special dispensation from Ukrainian authorities to leave the country, but even then, lawyers estimate that travel time for an FTX client would be three days each way and would require a complicated route through the ongoing war.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutors declined to comment. A media representative for Bankman-Fried also declined to comment.
Federal prosecutors said international witness testimony was crucial to understanding the global nature and influence of the FTX crypto-exchange.
“Due to FTX’s international popularity, many of FTX’s customers are scattered around the world, and the coordination of international authorizations to permit testimony and international travel arrangements in the United States is extremely complex,” the attorneys said in a court filing.
Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial in a New York jail in a few days after a judge revoked her bail for allegedly tampering with witnesses. A step Court CalendarThe trial will continue till November 9.