Sam Bankman-Fried, the embattled co-founder of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, has retained New York defense attorney Mark Cohen to represent him.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the embattled co-founder of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, has retained New York defense attorney Mark Cohen to represent him, according to Bankman-Fried’s spokesperson Mark Botnick.
Cohen was previously part of the team that represented convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. He also successfully defended analyst Peter Black against a Securities and Exchange Commission suit in a 2014 trial. Cohen’s hiring by Bankman-Fried was first reported by Reuters.
Bankman-Fried hasn’t been charged with any crime, but federal prosecutors in Manhattan have begun investigating FTX’s collapse due in part to an unexplained $8 billion shortfall in funds. He is also facing class-action lawsuits and regulatory probes by the SEC and Commodities Future Trading Commission. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, also wants Bankman-Fried to appear at a hearing on Dec. 13.
In choosing Cohen, Bankman-Fried said he was “going on advice of counsel and people who are able to understand the situation and the context,” according to a Twitter Spaces during which he appeared on Tuesday. Bankman-Fried’s parents are law professors at Stanford University.
It’s unclear how Bankman-Fried plans to pay for the representation. Just weeks ago he was worth more than $15 billion, but last week said he only has about $100,000 and a credit card to his name.
“I don’t necessarily have a long-term plan there yet” in how to pay legal fees, Bankman-Fried said Tuesday. “I am not sure I will be able to pay all of the legal fees I need to pay.”
Bankman-Fried is also represented by one of his parents’ colleagues at Stanford, David Mills.
Cohen was a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York before moving into defense and co-founding his firm Cohen & Gresser. He mainly appeared for Maxwell in pre-trial proceedings, including her bail hearing, though other lawyers at his firm were active in her trial.
Before FTX filed for bankruptcy last month, Bankman-Fried, 30, was advised by the law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. But Bankman-Fried, who has ignored legal advice and taken part in several media interviews recently, and the Manhattan attorneys parted ways citing a conflict of interest.