Sam Bankman-Fried allowed to replace lawyers despite possible conflict

The founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, said his former lawyers will no longer represent him before his sentencing.

According to Reuters, lawyer Mark Mukasey will now join the legal team. He will represent his interests over the next month. A U.S. District Judge allowed Sam Bankman-Fried to retain new attorneys despite a conflict of interest.

Bankman-Fried was already represented by his new lawyer and told Judge Kaplan he was no longer using the services of Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell after Kaplan asked if they were “out of it now” at the start of the hearing.

Mukasey also represents the founder of failed crypto lender Celsius, Alex Mashinsky, who is accused by the Justice Department of securities fraud, commodity fraud, and conspiracy to manipulate the price of the company’s CEL token, among other charges.

U.S. authorities believe Alex Mashinsky is to blame for the collapse of cryptocurrency lender Celsius Alameda Research, a subsidiary of the FTX exchange. According to law enforcement, the former head of Celsius provided false information about the company’s financial position shortly before its bankruptcy. Alex Mashinsky did not admit the charges and demanded that the case brought against him be closed.

The FTX founder has been in custody since a federal judge revoked his bail in August, finding it likely he would try to intimidate witnesses. In early November 2023, it took a jury hours to find him guilty of stealing billions of dollars from FTX clients and defrauding its investors and creditors. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, after which Bankman-Fried will go to federal prison to serve his sentence.

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