Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is underway, and a plea deal was never even on the table, prosecutors reveal.
Bankman-Fried appeared in federal court in Manhattan Tuesday in a suit and tie, a far cry from his signature cargo shorts he sported during the height of FTX’s apparent success.
The government at no point offered Bankman-Fried any sort of plea deal if he were to accept the charges, the prosecution confirmed Tuesday.
About half of the first pool of potential jury members had been dismissed when the court recessed for lunch.
Southern District of New York senior judge Lewis Kaplan hopes the court can assemble its necessary jury – 12 jurors plus six alternates – by the end of the day, putting the trial on schedule to kick off with opening statements Wednesday.
“With luck and a strong wind at our back we will finish today,” Kaplan said.
The defense and prosecution assembled a list of questions for Kaplan to screen potential jurors, including inquiries about their familiarity with FTX and the case and their perceived ability to serve unbiasedly. So far, none of the prospective jurors have claimed they have personally dealt with or interacted with Bankman-Fried.
Proceedings started about an hour behind schedule, likely due to former President Donald Trump’s trial taking place on the same block in the New York Supreme Court.
“I’m told we can thank the delay to what is happening in the courtroom down the street,” Kaplan said.
Bankman-Fried faces seven counts of federal violations, including two counts of wire fraud and five counts of conspiracy.
The judge also explained to Bankman-Fried that despite any potential advice from his lawyers, he has a right to testify and his decision to do so is solely his own.
When asked if he understood that, the former FTX CEO responded, “Yes.”
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