Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) was able to get out on US$250 million bail despite claiming to have less than US$100,000 to his name, so it is not surprising that disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been able to retain a team of high-powered lawyers.
In his criminal case before the Southern District of York (SDNY), SBF has hired Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, both from Cohen & Gressler LLP, to represent him, the Marco Polo investigative group reported on January 7.
Cohen represented sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell.
He is also the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) “diversity monitor” who billed New York taxpayers US$10 million over four years.
Everdell was a prosecutor in the case that took down Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
The Marco Polo group’s report noted: “While SBF’s criminal case has generated the most headlines, Marco Polo noticed a familial connection between one of the entities suing SBF on the civil side — the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) — and Everdell. Indeed, Everdell’s wife (Ann Marie Preissler) is a ‘Senior Counsel’ in the NY office of the SEC, the very office suing SBF”.
“Preissler needs to recuse herself from the SEC’s action, as this scenario presents a clear conflict of interest,” Marco Polo group founder Garrett Ziegler said. “For example, Preissler, even though she is not listed on the SEC’s civil complaint, could be laundering information about the investigation/sources/methods to her husband, SBF’s attorney”.
SBF’s empire was totally vanquished in less than 12 hours on November 7.
On December 22, Bankman-Fried was arraigned in a New York City Federal courtroom on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. His court appearance came roughly 24 hours after being extradited from the Bahamas courtesy of the United States Marshals Service and a government-supplied private jet.
SBF was released on a US$250 million “personal recognizance” bond that was secured by assets pledged by four individuals. No money physically changes hands, not even a customary 10-15% of the total bail amount.
If Bankman-Fried fails to show at any future required court or sentencing date, the four co-signers of his bond will be on the hook for the full US$250 million.
Two of the individual co-signers are Sam’s parents Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried. The Bankman-Frieds pledged their US$4 million home in Palo Alto, California for the bond. The home is a block from Stanford’s campus, where SBF’s parents both worked as professors until recently when they had to take the semester off to deal with their son’s mess.
The identity of the other two individuals is not known. Lawyers for SBF formally requested that the identities of the two other co-signers remain redacted. In justifying their request, the lawyers claimed that Sam’s parents “have received a steady stream of threatening correspondence, including communications expressing a desire that they suffer physical harm”.
Marco Polo founder Garrett Ziegler noted: “When your mommy & dad are professors at Stanford, the US criminal justice system applies differently to you. For example, as Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press explained, the precedent set by Samuel Bankman-Fried’s faux $250M “bail” is simple & disastrous: if you’re 1) rich and have 2) committed crimes and 3) expect to be indicted, get out of the CONUS. If you stay out of the CONUS, you can use waiving your extradition rights as a bargaining chip for being granted bail — even if you swindled your customers out of billions.
“Indeed, SBF will hold court (and probably use the Peloton, the darling workout machine of the global elite) in his parents’ US$1.7M home—across the street from Stanford University’s president’s house — while he confers with his well-heeled defense team”.
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