NEW YORK, May 8 (Reuters) – Sam Bankman-Fried, who has long denied stealing from clients of his FTX cryptocurrency exchange, asked a U.S. judge on Monday to throw out criminal charges against him over the collapse of now-bankrupt FTX.
Bankman-Fried̵[ads1]7;s lawyers said in a filing in Manhattan federal court that many cryptocurrency exchanges collapsed during a massive market crash in 2022 and that prosecutors hastily charged their client in a “rush to judgment.”
“Instead of waiting for traditional civil and regulatory processes to take their ordinary course to resolve the situation, the government jumped in with both feet, wrongfully attempting to turn these civil and regulatory issues into federal crimes,” his lawyers wrote.
Bankman-Fried, a 31-year-old former billionaire, has been largely confined to his parents’ home since his arrest in December in the Bahamas, where he had lived and where FTX was based. He was extradited to the United States just over a week after his arrest.
FTX imploded after a flurry of client withdrawals in the wake of reports that it had commingled assets with Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s crypto-focused hedge fund.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars in FTX client funds to cover losses in Alameda, buy real estate and make political contributions through an illegal straw donor scheme. They have also charged him with bribing Chinese officials.
In court papers on Monday, his lawyers said the campaign finance charge should be dismissed because it was not included in the surrender order signed by the Bahamas’ foreign minister ahead of Bankman-Fried’s extradition, and that other charges, including the bribery charge, were false. brought after he was extradited.
Under an extradition treaty between the United States and the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried can only be tried and punished for the charges he was facing at the time of his extradition, unless the Bahamas government agrees to the new charges.
Prosecutors have until May 29 to respond to Bankman-Fried’s motion to dismiss, and U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan will hear arguments on June 15.
Bankman-Fried drove a boom in bitcoin and other digital assets to an estimated net worth of $26.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine. He became an influential donor to American political and philanthropic causes until his fortune largely disappeared when FTX collapsed in November.
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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of fraud and conspiracy. He has acknowledged that FTX had inadequate risk management, but denies stealing funds, and has tried to distance himself from FTX’s day-to-day operations.
Three former close associates — former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, former FTX chief technology officer Gary Wang and former FTX chief engineering officer Nishad Singh — have all pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
In pleading guilty, Singh admitted to making political donations in his own name that were partially funded by transfers from Alameda.
But Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said Monday that the donations made by Singh, referred to as CC-1 in prosecutors’ charging documents against their client, did not actually violate election laws.
“The campaign finance charges reveal, once again, the consequences of the government’s rush to indict Mr. Bankman-Fried,” his lawyers wrote.
Bankman-Fried’s trial is set for October 2.
His parents, who live in Palo Alto, California, are law professors at Stanford University and co-signed his $250 million bond.
Bankman-Fried has limited access to technology, after prosecutors warned he could tamper with witnesses.
Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York
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