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Semafor LogoLiz Hoffman and Reed Albergotti
business

Bankman-Fried parts ways with Paul Weiss lawyers

Liz is Semafor’s Business & Finance Editor and you can sign up for her scoops here. Reed is Semafor’s Technology Editor and his newsletter sign up is here.

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Sam Bankman-Fried has parted ways with the white-shoe lawyers helping him as he faces federal investigations into the collapse of his crypto empire, people familiar with the matter said.

Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old whose FTX exchange and web of related crypto firms unraveled last week, had been working with Martin Flumenbaum at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, a dean of the white-collar bar who defended Michael Milken in his securities fraud trial in the 1990s and AIG in its post-2008 dealings with the Justice Department.

"We informed Mr. Bankman-Fried several days ago, after the filing of the FTX bankruptcy, that conflicts have arisen that precluded us from representing him," Flumenbaum said in a statement.

Bankman-Fried is now represented by Greg Joseph, former president of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Also on his legal team as an advisor is David W. Mills, who teaches criminal law at Stanford Law School, where Bankman-Fried’s parents are both professors, some of the people said.

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Bankman-Fried hasn’t been accused of a crime. The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has “boots on the ground” at an FTX U.S.-registered clearinghouse, commissioner Kristin Johnson said at a London conference.

“There’s a chance this case could go criminal,” Aitan Goelman, former head of enforcement at the CFTC, told Semafor.

Bankman-Fried, an investor in Semafor, Joseph, and Mills did not respond to requests for comment.

FTX loaned customer deposits to a trading firm, Alameda Research, controlled by Bankman-Fried, that had suffered losses on its crypto bets, Reuters first reported last week and Semafor has confirmed. FTX said in a bankruptcy filing today that Alameda had loaned $1 billion to Bankman-Fried and $543 million to Nishad Singh, who was head of engineering at the exchange.

Those transfers could violate U.S. law and are the focus of the federal probes, people familiar with the matter said. They would also likely violate FTX’s terms of service, shown below, which could carry civil penalties.

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Title iconUpdate

Updated to add Greg Joseph is also a lawyer for Bankman-Fried.

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