As the start date of FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s case approaches, new court filings show that SBF could pay its expert witnesses over $1,000 per hour if they testify on their behalf. The request for a delay in the trial and the expert witnesses’ fees are being discussed in relation to the allegations SBF will face in the later stages of the trial.
SBF may call upon seven expert witnesses to testify in the fraud case currently scheduled for October 2, 2023. The proposed expert witnesses include Lawrence Akka, Thomas Bishop, Brian Kim, Joseph Pimbley, Bradley Smith, Peter Vinella, and Andrew Di Wu.
Some witnesses, such as former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley Smith, will request $1,200 per hour from SBF’s legal team to testify on matters related to campaign finance laws and straw donors (individuals who use political donations for purposes other than intended). Bradley Smith stated:
“I have no financial interest in the outcome of this case. I am being billed at an hourly rate of $1,200 for my time and services. My fees in this case are in no way contingent upon or based upon the views expressed herein or the outcome of these legal proceedings.”
According to court filings, other expert witnesses, including Akka and Pimbley, could receive fees of $800 British pounds (approximately $1,000) and $720 per hour, respectively, if they testify. The potential hourly fees for SBF’s expert witnesses range from $400 to $650. Additionally, Peter Easton, a proposed witness for the prosecution and an accounting professor at the University of Notre Dame, will receive $1,175 per hour.
These court filings came as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to prohibit seven expert witnesses from testifying on behalf of SBF. The Department of Justice argued that the proposed experts and their accompanying statements are “suffering from a range of deficiencies” and do not provide a basis for opinions.
“Expert opinions offered where the expert has not disclosed the bases for the opinions are not appropriate subjects for expert testimony. Such opinions are not based on reliable methodologies or on facts and data or are irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, and confusing to the jury.”
The news comes at a time when SBF is approaching the deadline to request a postponement of the trial. If the request is made and approved by September 1, 2023, SBF’s trial will be postponed until March 11, 2024. Bankman-Fried will face 12 charges in two trials scheduled to begin on October 2, 2023, and March 11, 2024.