Judge Bans Sam Bankman-Fried From Contacting FTX Employees And Using Signal
A New York judge has prohibited Sam Bankman-Fried from attempting to contact any former or current employees of Alameda Research or FTX.
Bankman-Fried has also been prohibited from using Signal or other ephemeral messaging applications.
The decision to amend the FTX founder's bail conditions, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday, comes after federal prosecutors filed a letter with the court on Friday asking for the former FTX CEO's bail conditions to be amended.
Prosecutors claimed that Bankman-Fried had reached out to at least one employee – identified as Ryne Miller, the current general counsel for FTX US – to allegedly attempt to influence his future witness testimony.
“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,” the DOJ’s letter quotes Bankman-Fried as saying to Miller.
In his decision issued Wednesday, Judge Kaplan said that Bankman-Fried's lawyers' attempt to characterize his communication with Miller as "benign" was not a persuasive one.
"Subject to hearing counsel's argument, the message in its entirety seems to be an invitation for [Miller] to align his views and recollections with the defendant's version of events and thus make their relationship 'constructive,'" Kaplan said. "In perhaps more colloquial terms, it appears to have been an effort to have both the defendant and [Miller] sing out of the same hymn book."
Bankman-Fried's lawyer, Mark Cohen, objected to the prosecution's proposed amendments to his client's bail, saying that his client needed to communicate with some former employees, including his therapist, George Lerner.
“Requiring Mr. Bankman-Fried to include counsel in every communication with a former or current FTX employee would place an unnecessary strain on his resources and prejudice his ability to defend this case,” Cohen said. “Many of these individuals are Mr. Bankman-Fried’s friends. Imposing a blanket restriction on his contact with them would remove an important source of personal support.”
Cohen also moved to eliminate an existing bail condition prohibiting Bankman-Fried from accessing or transferring any Alameda or FTX assets, including any cryptocurrency held in FTX.
A hearing on the matter is currently scheduled for Feb. 7.
UPDATE (15:27 UTC): Adds more information.