Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers plan to argue that their client was acting on the advice of a Silicon Valley law firm with regards to many of the fraud charges against him.
Posted May 31, 2023 at 10:37 pm EST. Updated June 1, 2023 at 12:33 am EST.
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is seeking documents from Fenwick & West, a law firm that used to represent FTX between 2017 and 2022.
In a Tuesday court filing, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said that the documents relate to critical topics that are “material to preparing a defense.” The documents in question are already in the prosecutors’ possession, with the FTX bankruptcy estate waiving attorney-client privilege protections in at least one instance, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys argued.
Specifically, the documents have been grouped into 11 topics which concern Fenwick’s legal advice to Bankman-Fried on FTX and Alameda Research-related matters, including the incorporation of these entities and legal ties between them.
Some of these sought-after materials relate to an allegation that Bankman-Fried lied to Silvergate Bank to open an account in 2020 in order to receive customer deposits for FTX’s international exchange.
Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried incorporated a company called North Dimension to get around Silvergate’s conditions of opening an account for FTX only if it was a licensed money service business in the U.S.
“Based on the limited number of invoices and other documents we received in discovery, it is clear that Fenwick provided real-time legal advice to FTX about both the opening of the North Dimension bank account and whether or not FTX needed to register as a money services business,” stated Bankman-Fried’s lawyers.
The lawyers also claim that Bankman-Fried directed FTX and Alameda employees to use ephemeral messaging apps like Signal for business communication under the advice of Fenwick.
If the government does not hand over the documents, the lawyers will seek permission to subpoena the law firm.