FTX founder may wait for trial in jail, as his judge grows frustrated with him violating the terms of his bail package.
The terms of Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail package allow him to live with his parents in Palo Alto, California, while his attorneys and prosecutors prepare for his trail. He’s charged with multiple counts of fraud and money laundering via FTX, the cryptocurrency trading platform he founded in 2019. In December of last year, he was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the United States. His $250 million bond is the largest ever set in an American criminal proceeding, due to his access to funds and his having already fled the country once.
As of February 1st, his bail conditions also prohibit the FTX founder from contacting any current or former employees of FTX without attorneys present. Judge Lewis Kaplan, who imposed the new restriction, considers it a “material threat of inappropriate contact with prospective witnesses.”
The judge noted that Bankman-Fried, according to prosecutors, “has done things that suggests to me that maybe he has committed or attempted to commit a federal felony while on release.”
Kaplan was alluding to a claim by prosecutors that Bankman-Fried sent an encrypted message over the Signal texting app on Jan. 15 to the general counsel of FTX US.
According to prosecutors, the message said: “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. I’d love to get on a phone call sometime soon and chat.”
Federal prosecutors have told Kaplan that Bankman-Fried’s communications indicate he may be trying to influence a witness with incriminating evidence against him.
Because Bankman-Fried has continued to use the internet while advised not to, which opens up unsupervised channels for him to violate this bail condition, Kaplan has suggested that putting the FTX founder in jail pending trial may be the most effective option.
Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock