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FTX founder’s expert witnesses could cost up to $1.2K an hour

Sam Bankman-Fried’s potential expert witnesses could charge more than the U.S. prosecution witnesses, according to court filings.

As the start date of the trial of FTX co-founder Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried approaches, new court filings indicate that SBF could pay his expert witnesses more than $1,000 an hour should they testify on his behalf.

SBF may call seven expert witnesses to testify at his fraud trial, which is currently scheduled for Oct. 2, 2023. The proposed expert witnesses include Lawrence Akka, Thomas Bishop, Brian Kim, Joseph Pimbley, Bradley Smith, Peter Vinella and Andrew Di Wu.

Some of the witnesses, such as former Federal Election Commission Chairperson Bradley Smith, will charge SBF’s legal team $1,200 an hour to testify about issues such as the United States’ campaign finance laws and straw donors, according to a court filing on Aug. 28.

“I have no financial interest in the outcome of this case. I am being compensated for my time and services on an hourly basis at the billing rate of $1,200 per hour,” Smith said in the filing. The document added:

“My compensation in this case is not in any way contingent or based on the opinions presented herein or on the outcome of these legal proceedings.”

Other expert witnesses, including Akka and Pimbley, could charge 800 British pounds ($1,000) and $720 per hour, respectively, should they testify, according to the court filings. Other hourly rates for SBF’s potential expert witnesses range between $400 and $650.

On the other hand, Peter Easton, an accounting professor at the University of Notre Dame, who is a proposed witness for the prosecution, will charge $1,175 per hour, the court data shows.

The above-mentioned court filings came as part of a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to ban all seven expert witnesses from testifying for SBF in court.

The DOJ argued that Bankman-Fried’s proposed experts and their accompanying disclosures “suffer from an array of deficiencies” and fail to provide a basis for the opinions.

Related: DOJ calls SBF’s fraud allegation defense ‘irrelevant,’ requests additional info

“Where the defendant does disclose the expert’s opinions, the opinions are inappropriate subjects for expert testimony, lack a reliable methodology or basis in facts and data, or are irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, and confusing to the jury,” the authority wrote.

The news comes amid the last deadline for SBF to request a postponement of the trial. If the request is filed by Sept. 1 and approved, SBF’s trial will be moved to March 11, 2024.

Bankman-Fried faces 12 criminal charges, which will be spread across two trials scheduled to begin on Oct. 2, 2023, and March 11, 2024. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

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