Crime & Justice

Judge wants tighter limits on Bankman-Fried’s communications

New York, Feb 9 (EFE).- The United States federal judge presiding over the case against Sam Bankman-Fried over the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX said Thursday that prosecutors and defense lawyers must agree on a way to ensure that he does not delete text messages pending his trial.

Extradited to the US from the Bahamas on Dec. 21, the defendant remains free on a bond of $250 million, albeit under the “strict supervision” of mother Barbara Fried and father Joseph Bankman – both Stanford Law professors – at the couple’s home in Palo Alto, California.

Last month, prosecutors asked Judge Lewis Kaplan to restrict Bankman-Fried’s communications.

The request was supported by evidence that SBF, as the disgraced crypto mogul is known, had been in contact via email and the Signal messaging app with Ryne Miller, general counsel of FTX US, a potential witness in the case.

On Feb. 1, Kaplan barred SBF from communicating with current or former employees of FTX or FTX-linked hedge fund Alameda Research without the presence of prosecutors and his attorneys.

The judge also prohibited the 30-year-old defendant from using Signal or other messaging apps that use encryption.

Earlier this week, prosecutors and defense counsel agreed on a plan that would permit Bankman-Fried to employ some forms of electronic communication.

Kaplan, however, rejected the proposal and gave the lawyers for both sides until Feb. 21 to craft a new arrangement satisfy his concerns to make sure that all of SBF’s messages are recoverable.

“I am far less concerned about the defendant’s convenience,” the judge said at Thursday’s hearing.

The FTX, which had a putative value of $32 billion at its peak, filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11 and the new, court-appointed CEO, John Ray, has characterized the situation at the firm as a “complete failure of corporate control.”

The collapse cost the firm’s clients an estimated $8 billion dollars in losses.

SBF could face 115 years in prison if convicted on all eight counts pertaining to offenses including securities fraud, money laundering and violating campaign finance laws.

Prosecutors disclosed in December that they had reached plea agreements with FTX co-founder Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison, who headed Alameda Research.

Ellison and Wang pleaded guilty to fraud charges and are cooperating with law enforcement. EFE


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