Monday, December 11, 2023

The U.S. Department of Justice informed a federal judge that it did “not intend to proceed” with a campaign finance charge against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried after consulting with The Bahamas over whether it was included in an extradition document last year.

The DOJ originally indicted Bankman-Fried on eight different counts near the end of 2022. Prosecutors later added another five charges, but Bankman-Fried’s defense team argued that The Bahamas, which originally arrested the former FTX CEO, had to agree to those charges under the terms of the U.S.’s extradition treaty with the nation. Judge Lewis Kaplan, of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, allowed the DOJ to sever those charges, scheduling a March trial date.

According to a court filing late Wednesday, The Bahamas did not include the eighth charge from the original indictment, a campaign finance violation, in its extradition treaty.

“The Government has been informed that The Bahamas notified the United States earlier today that The Bahamas did not intend to extradite the defendant on the campaign contributions count,” the DOJ letter said. “Accordingly, in keeping with its treaty obligations to The Bahamas, the Government does not intend to proceed to trial on the campaign contributions count.”

The notice comes hours after a hearing over Bankman-Fried’s alleged attempt to discredit former Alameda Research executive Caroline Ellison by sharing private documents with the New York Times. Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon opened the hearing by announcing the DOJ wanted to remand Bankman-Fried into custody.

Judge Kaplan declined to rule on that motion during Wednesday’s hearing, instead setting up a schedule for both the prosecution and the defense to file written submissions on that matter. In the meantime, he imposed an interim gag order preventing Bankman-Fried from communicating publicly.

Bankman-Fried is currently set to go on trial on Oct. 2. The DOJ’s letter did not say if prosecutors intend to fold the campaign finance charge into the second trial in March.

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