In response to the claim made by the defense team of Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) explained that the 31-year-old billionaire “went beyond benignly exercising a constitutional right to speak to the press.”
Sam Bankman-Fried Attempt to Tamper With Witnesses
Last week, the DoJ accused Bankman-Fried of tampering with witnesses including sharing personal documents belonging to his one-time romantic partner and business associate Caroline Ellison with a reporter. The diary contains details of Ellison’s struggle while she was CEO at Alameda Research and her passionate relationship with Bankman-Fried. The reporter planned to feature the article in a New York Times report.
The DoJ found this move to be disturbing and regarded it as an attempt made by SBF to influence his criminal trial which is only a few months away. Specifically, the prosecutors perceived the move as “steps intended to improperly discredit a trial witness and taint the jury pool.”
Prosecutors Attempt to Revoke SBF’s Bail Bond
Consequently, a gag order was imposed on him and the DoJ attempted to revoke his $250 million bail bond which was granted after his extradition to the U.S. Markedly, SBF’s lawyers did not deny the allegations about sharing Ellison’s diary with a reporter from the New York Times and this, the DoJ highlighted in a late Thursday filing, is enough reason for him to be “detained pending trial.”
However, his defence team argued that the prosecutors’ request to revoke his bail is unwarranted, especially as it is on “thin” factual ground. In effect, detaining him would raise “serious First Amendment concerns,” according to Bankman-Fried’s legal team.
SBF Points to New FTX CEO to Deflect His Conduct
A footnote which appeared in the DoJ’s filing commented on how often SBF’s defense team kept mentioning John Ray III who took over from Bankman-Fried after he resigned in November 2022. The prosecutors clarified that the defendant’s argument is an attempt to deflect his conduct as he continues to point at another person who he views in a negative light.
“It is notable just how much of the defendant’s various letters focus on his interactions with or perceptions of John Ray, an individual who is not a witness in this case and whose communications have no relevance to any issue at stake here,” the DoJ filing reads.