Legal Inquiry: SBF's Counsel Seeks Testimony from Caroline Ellison Regarding FTX's Anthropic AI Stake
Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda, gave her testimony on Tuesday, revealing that she had been consulted regarding FTX's investment portfolio. Sam Bankman-Fried's defense team is seeking to question Ellison about her reliance on legal advice during her tenure as CEO of Alameda Research, as well as the valuation of FTX's stake in Anthropic AI.
In filings submitted after Ellison's testimony, the defense team requested permission to address these matters, following Judge Lewis Kaplan's previous request for advance notice regarding the "advice-of-counsel" argument.
Ellison, who headed Alameda, a cryptocurrency hedge fund connected to Bankman-Fried's now-bankrupt FTX crypto exchange, is a crucial witness in the criminal fraud case against him. During her testimony, she mentioned that she provided input on FTX's investment portfolio, even though her advice was ultimately disregarded.
The defense team aims to question Ellison about her understanding of the involvement of FTX and Alameda lawyers in formulating policies, such as the activation of auto-deletion features on the messaging app Signal.
The Department of Justice has opposed any discussion of the current valuation of FTX investments, emphasizing its irrelevance to the question of whether Bankman-Fried misused FTX customer funds. They specifically addressed the situation with Anthropic AI, suggesting that potential fundraising efforts by the AI firm could impact FTX creditors.
In a separate filing, Bankman-Fried's team argued that the news about Anthropic provides important context regarding FTX's anticipated value analysis, warranting broader questions about FTX's portfolio.
During the court session, there was a discussion between the attorneys and Judge Lewis Kaplan regarding whether these issues should be raised during the trial.
Additionally, it was revealed that Ellison is a personal investor in Anthropic, as confirmed by an assistant U.S. attorney. This could potentially be a topic for further questioning if deemed admissible by the court.
Another unresolved matter pertains to whether the DOJ should be allowed to have a witness from Ukraine testify remotely. The judge expressed reluctance to admit witnesses providing redundant testimony and suggested the prosecutors explore alternatives.
Assistant U.S. attorney Thane Rehn indicated that he would provide further information on this issue later in the week.
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