March 5, 2024

Judge extends Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail restrictions on messaging apps: Report

A federal judge has reportedly rules against oral arguments proposing former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried be allowed to use certain messaging apps.

According to a Feb. 9 Reuters report, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld his ruling that Bankman-Fried be restricted from using encrypted messaging apps as a condition of his release on a $250-million bond. The judge ordered SBF not to communicate using apps such as Signal on Feb. 1, but the former CEO’s legal team and prosecutors had negotiated a deal allowing for exceptions, including Facebook Messenger, Zoom and FaceTime.

Judge Kaplan reportedly said he was “far less interested in [Bankman-Fried’s] convenience” than in SBF contacting potential witnesses in his criminal case — court filings showed he had reached out to FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller and current FTX CEO John Ray. Bloomberg reported the judge said Bankman-Fried could be “bright enough to encrypt something without a computer,” suggesting that the current bail restrictions were necessary.

“There is still snail mail and there is still email and there are all kinds of ways to communicate that don’t present the same risks,” said Kaplan.

Bankman-Fried appeared in court in person as part of the bail hearing but largely remains restricted to his parents’ California home following his arrest and arraignment. His bail restrictions will reportedly remain in place until Feb. 21 following Kaplan’s ruling to extend.

Related: SBF’s lawyers move to block release of bail guarantors’ identities

The criminal trial for Bankman-Fried is scheduled to begin in October, when he will face eight criminal counts including wire fraud and violations of campaign finance law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has petitioned the court to issue an order staying the civil cases as well as discovery from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission until after the criminal case was resolved.