Court Bans Bankman-Fried from Contacting FTX Employees
- Prosecutors called for an amendment to Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions following concerns that he reached out to former employees.
- Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, argued that preventing his client from reaching out to former employees denied him access to his “friends.”
- A hearing on the case has been set for February 7.
A New York judge has reportedly banned former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried from contacting any former or current FTX or Alameda Research employees as he continues to await his trial. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York ruled that the decision was part of Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions. Bankman-Fried can only make contact with former employees “in the presence of counsel.”
Judge Kaplan also ruled that Bankman-Fried was banned from using encrypted messaging applications like Signal. The decision to amend Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions comes days after prosecutors filed a letter asking the court to amend the conditions. Prosecutors claimed Bankman-Fried had used an encrypted platform to contact FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller.
The former FTX CEO was said to have told Miller, “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’s lawyers reportedly argued that the communication with Miller was not persuasive. However, Judge Kaplan noted that “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.” The federal judge concluded that “it appears to have been an effort to have both the defendant and [Miller] sing out of the same hymn book.”
Speaking on the decision to amend Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions, Kaplan said,
The undisputed information available to the Court regarding the ‘nature and seriousness of the danger [. . .] posed by [defendant’s continued] release’ on the existing conditions has changed substantially since he was released, and there appears to be a material threat of inappropriate contact with prospective witnesses. That risk, the Court finds, is clearly and convincingly sufficient to warrant the imposition of additional conditions pending the full argument of the cross-applications.
Objecting to the proposed amendment to the bail conditions, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, argued that his client needed to contact some former employees, including his therapist, George Lerner.
Cohen, in his argument, said that “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 further said that most of the former employees are Bankman-Fried’s “friends” and “imposing a blanket restriction on his contact with them would remove an important source of personal support.”
Cohen also tried to remove a bail condition that prevented Bankman-Fried from using any FTX or Alameda assets, including any cryptocurrencies held there, or from transferring them. A hearing on the case is set for February 7.