The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested that the bail bond of Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the founder and former CEO of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, be revoked and that the court impose a detention order against him due to his attempts to tamper with witnesses.
According to a letter submitted to Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York, SBF’s attempts to tamper with witnesses in his fraud case would interfere with the government’s and public’s right to a fair trial and the administration of justice.
SBF’s Witness Tampering Attempts
The DOJ disclosed that after SBF was released on a bail bond in December, he reached out to the current general counsel of FTX.US in January through emails and Signal, an encrypted messaging application. Among other things, SBF expressed his desire to reconnect with the counsel and build a “constructive relationship” that would entail using each other as resources when possible.
The Justice Department pointed out that SBF had a history of using Signal for obstructive purposes in the years that led to his firm’s bankruptcy. The court eventually modified his bail conditions, prohibiting contact with FTX and Alameda Research employees and using encrypted or ephemeral messaging applications.
The New York Times recently published an article on the private writings and psychology of Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda and SBF’s ex-girlfriend, in the months leading up to FTX’s implosion. After several investigations, the DOJ found that SBF had released the writings to reporters.
A deeper probe showed that in the past few months, SBF had sent more than 100 emails and been on over 1,000 phone calls with media members. He also had over 100 phone calls with one of the authors of the New York Times Ellison article, with several lasting for roughly 20 minutes. In addition, the FTX founder used virtual private networks to conceal his online activities.
DOJ Wants SBF Detained Ahead of Trial
SBF’s actions have shown that no pretrial release conditions can assure the safety of witnesses and that he is unlikely to abide by his bail conditions, according to the DOJ.
Prosecutors have already sought a gag order, which SBF accepted last week, to prevent further witness tampering actions. Nonetheless, the U.S. government wants him detained ahead of his trial scheduled for October 2, 2023.
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