"Sam Bankman-Fried: Urgent call to action as prosecutors reveal witness intimidation charges"
Former billionaire and FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, may be jailed pending his October fraud trial for witness tampering. Prosecutors argue that Bankman-Fried shared personal Google documents with the press to intimidate witnesses. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to stealing billions of dollars in customer funds.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, is facing a request from prosecutors to be jailed pending his fraud trial. The prosecutors argue that Bankman-Fried has been attempting to intimidate witnesses and influence their testimony. Bankman-Fried, who was once a billionaire, has been living under house arrest at his parents' home in Palo Alto, California since his extradition from the Bahamas in December 2022.
The issue of his bail, which includes a $250 million bond, arose after the New York Times published an article on July 20 that contained excerpts from personal Google documents belonging to Bankman-Fried's former romantic partner, Caroline Ellison. Bankman-Fried admitted to sharing the documents with a Times reporter. The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan claims that this crossed a line and constitutes witness tampering.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, prosecutors stated that while Bankman-Fried has the right to speak and defend himself to the press, he cannot seek to corruptly influence witnesses or interfere with a fair trial through public harassment and shaming. Bankman-Fried's spokesperson declined to comment, and his lawyers have until August 1 to respond to the government's letter.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to allegations of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to cover losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund, where Ellison served as the CEO. Prosecutors made the unexpected request to detain Bankman-Fried before his October trial during a hearing on Wednesday, where Judge Kaplan prohibited him from discussing the case. Bankman-Fried's lawyer argued that his communications with journalists were simply an effort to protect his reputation.
Prosecutors previously accused Bankman-Fried in January of attempting to influence the testimony of an FTX lawyer. In documents cited by the New York Times, Ellison expressed her unhappiness and feeling overwhelmed with her job, as well as the hurt and rejection she experienced from her breakup with Bankman-Fried. Ellison has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is expected to testify against Bankman-Fried at trial. Two former FTX executives, Gary Wang and Nishad Singh, have also pleaded guilty in connection with FTX's collapse and are cooperating with prosecutors.
In conclusion, the prosecutors argue that Sam Bankman-Fried should be jailed pending his fraud trial due to his alleged attempts to intimidate witnesses and influence their testimony. Bankman-Fried, who founded the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, has been under house arrest since his extradition from the Bahamas. The issue of his bail arose after the New York Times published excerpts from personal Google documents belonging to his former partner. Bankman-Fried admitted to sharing these documents with a Times reporter, leading prosecutors to accuse him of witness tampering. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds, and his lawyers have until August 1 to respond to the government's letter. Caroline Ellison, who served as the CEO of Bankman-Fried's Alameda Research hedge fund, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is expected to testify against him at trial. Two former FTX executives have also pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.