Sam Bankman-Fried

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried jailed for witness interference

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Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX, was jailed Friday and his bail revoked ahead of his upcoming trial for fraud, which is scheduled for October 2. The sentencing judge ruled that Bankman-Fried attempted to influence witnesses in the case brought against him for his part in the collapse of FTX in November last year. 

See related article: Bankrupt FTX recovers US$7.3 billion in assets, considers resurrection of operations

Fast facts

  • Following the court hearing in New York, Bankman-Fried was detained and taken to the city’s Metropolitan Detention Center. He was previously under house arrest at his parents’ home in California after paying his US$250-million bail in December 2022.
  • In a court filing issued on July 28, U.S. prosecutors asked Federal District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail and issue an order to jail the defendant, claiming that Bankman-Fried had attempted to influence at least two witnesses in his case. 
  • At Friday’s hearing, Kaplan ruled that Bankman-Fried had likely told the witnesses to “back off” and “hedge their cooperation” with the government in acts that amounted to witness tampering.
  • “He (Bankman-Fried) has already — without violating any other bail condition save that he not commit another crime — gone up to the line over and over again,” Kaplan said when making his decision.
  • The witnesses named by prosecutors were former FTX general counsel Ryne Miller and Caroline Ellison, the CEO of FTX sister firm Alameda Research and Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend.  
  • The witness tampering allegations against Bankman-Fried include leaking Ellison’s private diaries to a New York Times reporter in an attempt to “portray Ms. Ellison in an unfavorable light,” Kaplan said.
  • Bankman-Fried’s legal team said they would appeal the bail decision. They made an initial motion at the court to delay Bankman-Fried’s detention until the appeal is heard. However, Kaplan rejected it.
  • Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas in December 2022 on multibillion-dollar fraud charges related to the failure of the FTX exchange. He maintains his innocence and has pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against him.

See related article: Sam Bankman-Fried banned from using VPNs while on bail: Bloomberg

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