A court order from Friday shows that Sam Bankman-Fried’s motion to subpoena former FTX law firm Fenwick & West was denied.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that neither the law firm nor the FTX debtors are part of the “prosecution team” as Bankman-Friend’s lawyers alleged, and as such, the government is under no obligation to produce documents not within its custody or control.
“Furthermore, the defendant’s proposed subpoena, if enforced, would serve as a fishing expedition and does not meet the specificity, relevance, and admissibility requirements set forth in United States v. Nixon,” stated Judge Kaplan.
In May, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers moved to compel the government into handing over documents from Fenwick & West, which represented FTX between 2017 and 2022. The lawyers argued that Bankman-Fried relied on the advice of Fenwick & West with respect to several of the charges against him, including the incorporation of a shell company to get around Silvergate Bank’s conditions for opening an account for the exchange.
“In other words, the defendant’s argument is ‘my lawyers told me it was legal, and I thought it was legal,” explained New York University law Professor Stephen Gillers to Bloomberg.
Four former FTX employees also referred to Fenwick & West legal memos during interviews with federal prosecutors, claiming that the firm’s legal advice guided their decisions.
Last week, Fenwick & West hired its own outside counsel Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to represent the firm on issues relating to FTX and Bankman-Fried, Reuters reported.