SBF defense petitions court to let them bring up Anthropic investment

Two defense letters are attempting to countering the prosecution’s claims and bolster their own

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Artwork by Crystal Le

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Late Tuesday, attorneys for Sam Bankman-Fried presented two letters to the Southern District Court of New York, addressing pivotal elements of the ongoing high-profile federal fraud trial.

One letter, directed to Judge Lewis Kaplan, petitions the court to permit discussions on the involvement of legal counsel in establishing auto-deletion policies at Alameda

The defense is jockeying for position on allegations that Bankman-Fried implemented these policies on platforms such as Signal and Slack to conceal unlawful actions. 

A salient point in the letter centers on whether Caroline Ellison, Alameda’s former CEO, was cognizant that these policies were formulated with legal oversight, thereby suggesting no malintent behind their inception.

Read more: Co-founder Wang says FTX code allowed Alameda’s ‘unlimited withdrawals’

Ellison’s Tuesday testimony shed light on the internal dynamics of the trading firm. Although designated as the head, Ellison underscored that billion-dollar decision-making rested predominantly with Bankman-Fried, even as she oversaw daily operations. 

Ellison depicted her former boss’s pronounced appetite for risk, especially with her analysis pointing to a significant financial danger for Alameda. 

Despite these findings, Bankman-Fried is said to have greenlighted a $3 billion venture investment and, subsequently, a $2 billion venture fund under the FTX banner, allegedly due to perceived brand disparities with Alameda.

Anthropic

The second letter from the defense challenges the prosecution’s move to omit discussions, based on claims of irrelevancy, on Bankman-Fried’s $500 million investment in Anthropic AI

It’s being argued that the tech enterprise has appreciated substantially since its acquisition by the former FTX CEO back in April 2022.

This appreciation, they argue, exemplifies the efficacy of Alameda’s investment strategy, thereby countering the government’s narrative which casts Alameda’s venture capital endeavors as precarious and unprofitable.

The defense’s rationale is underpinned by the belief that the Anthropic investment offers essential context to the jury. Given that a tenet of the prosecution’s strategy has been framing Bankman-Fried’s financial choices as impetuous, the defense is attempting to mitigate such insinuations.

Read more: SBF said FTX was not ‘bulletproof’ months before demise, testimony reveals

“Here, the significant appreciation in Anthropic since last year reflects this important context and is relevant to testimony that the Government has elicited from Ms. Ellison concerning expected value analyses,” the letter reads.

Judge Kaplan issued an order in response to one of the letters late Tuesday evening, though the information is not yet available for public record.


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