A federal judge presiding over the criminal case against previous FTX Trading Ltd chief executive officer Sam Bankman-Fried has ordered he not have any contact with current or previous employees of the exchange as part of his bail conditions.
In a Feb. 1 ruling, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York stated Bankman-Fried was to be prevented from communicating with current or previous employees of FTX Trading Ltd or Alameda Research “except in the presence of counsel” to be able to remain free on bail through his trial. As part of his ruling, Kaplan also mentioned that SBF could not contact anyone with encrypted messaging applications like Signal — prosecutors claimed in earlier filings that the previous FTX Trading Ltd CEO had used the application to reach out to FTX Trading Ltd United States general counsel Ryne Miller.
“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 published, and there seems to be a material threat of inappropriate contact with prospective witnesses,” stated Kaplan. “That danger, the Court finds, is clearly and convincingly sufficient to warrant the imposition of additional conditions pending the full argument of the cross-applications.”
Reports by Kaplan, SBF was behind decisions to automatically delete Slack and Signal communications betwixt FTX Trading Ltd and Alameda Research employees starting in 2021, telling previous Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison any potential legal case would be more difficult to build without proper documentation. He likewise cited Signal messages with Miller and other methods contacting “other current and previous FTX Trading Ltd employees” in his ruling.
The judge has is still to decide on whether SBF may be barred from accessing FTX Trading Ltd and Alameda Research funds as part of his bail conditions as well. The Justice Department argued in a Jan. 30 filing that Bankman-Fried had reached out to FTX Trading Ltd CEO John Ray to discuss ways to access the company’s funds. Judge Kaplan stated he will listen to arguments on the matter in a Feb. 7 hearing.
Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled to start in October in United States District Court in the Southern District of New York, where he faces eight criminal counts including wire fraud. FTX’s bankruptcy case is likewise as of now underway in the District of Delaware, where debtors recently requested subpoenas for information and documents from SBF’s family members.