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DOJ Disqualifies Expert Witnesses in FTX Founder’s Fraud Case

In a legal maneuver that could have a significant impact on the upcoming fraud and conspiracy trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has targeted his chosen list of expert witnesses. Prosecutors argue that the seven experts proposed by Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense should be disqualified from testifying.

According to the DOJ, these witnesses have either failed to provide adequate disclosure of their opinions, addressed subjects that could confuse the jury, or ventured into areas that are not relevant to the charges at hand.

During the trial, the government will call at least two witnesses – Gary Wang and Nishad Singh – who participated in writing the code for FTX.

Unpacking the Controversy

Among those under scrutiny is Lawrence Akka, a British lawyer whose proposed testimony focuses on the definition of a “trust” in law – a role that the DOJ claims exclusively for the judge. Joseph Pimbley and Thomas Bishop, consultants from different companies, are criticized for their vague disclosure records. On the other hand, the DOJ does not see the need for Brian Kim, a data analysis and forensic medicine expert, and Bradley Smith, a law professor at Capital University Law School, as their areas of expertise are considered irrelevant to the specific charges. The credibility of Peter Vinella, a financial services expert, is also contested due to a lack of sufficient experience in the crypto industry, and Andrew Di Wu, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, whose testimony is deemed “irrelevant” to the key issues of the trial.

A Countermove by SBF’s Defense

While the defense and prosecution vie for the upper hand, Sam Bankman-Fried’s legal team is not without countermeasures. They have filed motions to exclude Peter Easton, an accounting professor at the University of Notre Dame and a prosecution witness, citing a lack of foundation for his planned testimony. This is part of the defense’s broader strategy, which also aims to limit the use of discovery material and negotiate more time for Sam Bankman-Fried to prepare his defense.

A Virtual Face-Off

To add to the drama, a virtual meeting between the two legal teams is scheduled for this Wednesday. Among the points to be discussed are the defense motions for Sam Bankman-Fried to be allowed more frequent release from prison to prepare his defense. This critical step in the judicial procedure comes after the DOJ delivered an impressive 7.7 million pages of documents to the defense, raising further questions about the transparency and fairness of the trial.

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