A judge who handled lawsuits against Prince Andrew and Donald Trump will now oversee the forthcoming federal criminal trial of disgraced crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan replaced his colleague Ronnie Abrams on Monday, after Abrams recused herself due to a potential conflict of interest.
Judge Kaplan has overseen a number of high-profile trials, including when Virginia Giuffre sued Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, for sexual assault. The case was settled in February.
He is also currently overseeing a lawsuit brought forward by ex-journalist E. Jean Carroll, who accused Donald Trump of defamation when he denied that he raped her in the 1990s, and presided over a civil lawsuit against actor Kevin Spacey for an alleged “unwanted sexual advance.”
The 78-year-old has been described by the media as having a “no-nonsense” style and is known for quick decisions. He is also no stranger to the crypto world: he oversaw the first federal bitcoin securities fraud prosecution.
Bankman-Fried, known as SBF in the crypto community, is facing eight criminal charges—including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Bankman-Fried was released last week to his parents’ home on a $250 million pre-trial bond after being extradited to the U.S. from the Bahamas, where FTX is based.
The fresh-faced Jane Street alumnus became one of the richest people in the world with his FTX crypto empire. But his company blew-up last month in by far the most dramatic fall in the history of the cryptocurrency industry—taking most of the market with it.
It is alleged that Bankman-Fried committed fraud by using investors’ funds from the FTX crypto exchange to make risky bets via trading firm Alameda Research, which he also founded.
The Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit at the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office is handling the case.
New FTX CEO John J Ray III, who handled Enron’s bankruptcy proceedings, said that even with his extensive experience, the FTX mess has been shocking—claiming “a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals” led to its collapse.