– Judge Ronnie Abrams resigned from the criminal prosecution of Sam Bankman Fried due to a possible conflict of interest.
– The conflict of interest arose from the fact that her husband’s law firm had previously given counsel to FTX.
– A new judge from the Southern New York District will now preside over the Bankman trial, although the exact date is not yet known.
On Friday afternoon, Judge Ronnie Abrams of the Southern New York District resigned from her role in the criminal prosecution of Sam Bankman Fried, CEO of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The resignation came in response to a potential conflict of interest that had arisen due to her husband’s law firm, Davis Polk and Wardwell, having given counsel to FTX in 2021.
Bankman had been released from custody just one day prior, and was to await trial on 8 criminal charges, including bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and contravening federal campaign finance laws, while living with his family members in their Palo Alto home.
In her decision to resign, Abrams noted that Greg D. Andres, a partner at Davis Polk and Wardwell, had given counsel to FTX, though not in a capacity that could be considered directly advising them. Furthermore, she noted that while Andres had not personally handled any clients related to the case, Davis Polk & Wardwell had previously represented parties „who may be hostile to FTX as well as defendant Bankman-Fried.“
Due to the potential conflict of interest, Abrams opted to step down from the case in order to avoid any potential conflict or the appearance of one. A new judge from the Southern New York District will now preside over the Bankman trial, although the exact date is not yet known. Judges in these instances are typically chosen at random to preside over cases and are only removed if a potential conflict of interest materializes.
The resignation of Judge Ronnie Abrams from the criminal prosecution of Sam Bankman Fried is a reminder of the importance of avoiding any potential conflict of interest in the judicial process. With a new judge now assigned to the case, the public can rest assured that the trial will be conducted fairly and without bias.