Jury won’t hear BitMEX chief joke about ‘coconut’ bribes after all

A US judge has ruled Arthur Hayes' joke about coconut bribes from 2019 would give prosecutors the upper hand in the BitMEX trial.

Jurors in the upcoming BitMEX trial sadly won’t hear former BitMEX chief Arthur Hayes’ joke about bribing Seychellois officials with “nothing but a coconut,” reports Bloomberg.

On Thursday, US district judge John G. Koeltl banned Hayes’ “plainly inflammatory” joke from the trial, which is set to start at the end of March in New York.

Koeltl said the coconut comment gave prosecutors an unfair advantage against BitMEX founders’ defense.

“There’s no evidence of bribery in the Seychelles, and plainly the relevance of the segment is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice,” Koeltl said (via Bloomberg).

Hayes’ made the now-infamous coconut quip during a 2019 debate with economist Nouriel Roubini, a notorious Bitcoin skeptic.

A now-unlisted YouTube video of the event has racked up close to 40,000 views.

BitMEX founders’ coconut joke least of his worries

Hayes, along with fellow BitMEX insiders Ben Delo and Samuel Reed will face charges over alleged violations of US banking laws in a Manhattan court in just two months.

Prosecutors say the three execs knowingly failed to implement proper anti-money laundering rules in their offshore crypto derivatives exchange, which offered margin traders leveraged exposure to Bitcoin price movements.

This video has been timestamped to Hayes’ “coconut” comment.

Read more: [Arthur Hayes’ surrender starts countdown ’til court hears the coconut quote]

Lawyers for the BitMEX three are ready to argue authorities are using the trial to test “two highly technical statutory regimes in a novel set of circumstances where the line between criminal and innocent conduct was unknowable,” (via Bloomberg, our emphasis).

BitMEX’s first employee Greg Dwyer faces trial on similar charges in October. The former head of business agreed to extradition to the US from Bermuda last September.

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