Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
- Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried accused prosecutors of “sandbagging” him over bail requests.
- The DOJ asked for the FTX founder to be barred from using Signal and speaking with former employees.
- The request was linked to SBF’s alleged communication with FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has accused prosecutors of sandbagging him over a request to tighten the conditions of his bail after accusing him of witness tampering.
Prosecutors wrote to judge Lewis Kaplan in a Manhattan Federal Court on Friday asking for two new conditions to be added to Bankman-Fried’s bail: that he not speak to employees or former employees of FTX or Alameda without the presence of a lawyer, and that he couldn’t use encrypted messaging apps for correspondence, notably Signal.
The requests were linked to the Department of Justice’s allegation that Bankman-Fried’s communication with FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller, a witness in the trial, constituted witness tampering.
“I would really love to reconnect and see if there’s a way for us to have a constructive relationship, use each other as resources when possible, or at least vet things with each other,” Bankman-Fried is accused of saying to Miller.
In a response filed to Judge Kaplan Saturday, lawyers for Bankman-Fried said the request followed correspondence with prosecutors that suggested they were considering the issue, that the Signal message in question sent by Bankman-Fried hadn’t been deleted, and that it was simultaneously sent over email to ensure transparency.
“But rather than wait for any response from the defense, the Government sandbagged the process, filing this letter at 6:00pm on Friday evening,” lawyers wrote.
“In an apparent effort to portray our client in the worst possible light, the Government’s letter makes it appear as if it were prompted by exigent circumstances that required it to file on a Friday night and seek these new bail conditions.”
Prosecutors highlighted former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX Cofounder Gary Wang — who both plead guilty to fraud charges — as people Bankman-Fried be barred from contacting. They proposed he could continue speaking with his father Joseph Bankman and his therapist George Lerner without the presence of a lawyer.
Bankman-Fried was released on bail in late December set at $250 million, with the FTX founder forced to stay at his parents’ home in California. He was charged with multiple counts of fraud over the collapse of the crypto exchange in November.