The Department of Justice (DOJ) has made a request to a US Judge to revoke the bond of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and have him imprisoned before his scheduled trial in October. The DOJ claims that Bankman-Fried has engaged in repeated attempts to influence witness testimony and that his current bail conditions are insufficient to protect the public.
The request from the DOJ came in a written submission to a federal judge on Friday. It alleges that Bankman-Fried leaked diaries belonging to former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison to the New York Times. The filing states that this action is yet another instance of Bankman-Fried trying to intimidate and corruptly influence Ellison regarding her upcoming trial testimony. It also suggests that Bankman-Fried’s leaking of the diaries could be an effort to influence or prevent the testimony of other potential trial witnesses.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, argues that his client was exercising his right to publicly defend himself by sharing the diary content with the Times. However, the DOJ claims that Bankman-Fried’s actions go beyond fair commentary. The filing asserts that he has repeatedly sought to corruptly influence witnesses and interfere with the fairness of the trial through public harassment and shaming.
Although the DOJ requested immediate detention for Bankman-Fried, Judge Lewis Kaplan from the Southern District of New York did not order him to be jailed. However, Judge Kaplan has set an expedited schedule for the prosecution and the defense to submit formal written statements. The DOJ submitted their statement by Friday, and the defense has until Tuesday to respond. The DOJ’s final response is expected by August 3.
During the recent hearing, Judge Kaplan expressed concern over Bankman-Fried’s contact with journalists. He warned Bankman-Fried to take the matter seriously and issued an interim gag order, prohibiting him from communicating with the press or making public statements until Kaplan reviews the written submissions regarding whether or not his bail should be entirely revoked.
It is important to note that this is not the first time Judge Kaplan has raised concerns about Bankman-Fried’s behavior while out on bond. In a previous hearing in February, the judge stated that there was probable cause to believe that Bankman-Fried’s interactions with former FTX.US general counsel Ryne Miller constituted witness tampering. Kaplan maintained this belief during the recent hearing, indicating enough reason to consider revoking bail. Bankman-Fried is scheduled to face trial in October for securities and wire fraud charges. A second trial, involving bank fraud and bribery allegations, is scheduled for March next year.