Lawyers Argue that Plans of SBF to Plead Not Guilty May Not Be in His Best Interest

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by Godfrey Benjamin · 3 min read
Lawyers Argue that Plans of SBF to Plead Not Guilty May Not Be in His Best Interest
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SBF remains under house arrest after posting a $250 million bail bond back in December.

Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) the embattled founder and former Chief Executive Officer of bankrupt FTX Exchange is set to appear in court today to start the criminal proceedings on his fraud charges where he is expected to plead not guilty. As reported by Reuters, his court session is set to commence by 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.

From earlier reports, SBF is billed to enter into a not-guilty plea before Judge Lewis, a move that has been under intense analysis by lawyers observing the case. Indeed, it may seem a surprising move to the general public that SBF has been advised to plead not guilty by his lawyers considering the fact that his co-executives Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang have both pleaded guilty to their 7 and 4 count charges respectively.

As for Sam Bankman-Fried, the count charges levied on him by Federal prosecutors sum up to 8, and should he be convicted for them, he could face as much as 115 years in prison. The bottom line of his fraud case hinges on the fact that he misappropriated  FTX customers’ funds to fund operations at Alameda Research.

SBF entered into some indulgences such that he went on luxury real estate acquisitions as well as making political donations that have notably riled up Washington DC since the bankruptcy filing became public. Bankman-Fried has made attempts to apologize to customers, creditors, and investors of the defunct trading platform which has a liability of over $8 billion to refund to investors.

According to the embattled crypto innovator, he made mistakes while running the trading platform but he did not believe that his actions had any criminal undertones at the time.

Not Guilty Plea May Not Favor SBF

According to a former federal prosecutor Danya Perry who served as a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has a very good advantage with respect to the current SBF case.

According to her, the DoJ has a lot of witnesses that are ready to testify should the case drag on to trial but she believed the not-guilty plea if made will be an attempt for SBF and his lawyers to negotiate a better deal with the amount of time that will be freed up.

“They have a mountain of paper evidence, and in fact, admissions by the defendant himself,” Perry said, adding; So they’re not going to be in any particular rush, and they’re not going to be welcoming of any sweetheart plea deal.”

The situation at hand makes pleading not guilty a fair one as the plea can be changed later on as the proceedings progress. With Bankman-Fried sitting at the echelon of affairs of the bankrupt trading firm, he may not see anyone to provide evidence against as is customary to suspects who plead guilty as explained by another former Federal prosecutor, Ian McGinley.

In all, there is a belief that the not-guilty plea can give prosecutors ample time to dig out more anomalies attached to the exchange and its operators. SBF remains under house arrest after posting a $250 million bail bond back in December.

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