NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried urged a U.S. judge on Saturday not to bar the indicted FTX cryptocurrency executive from contacting former colleagues as part of his bail. Customer “in a bad light”
Prosecutors responded to a request by federal prosecutors Friday night that Bankman-Fried not be allowed to speak to FTX or most of his Alameda research hedge fund’s employees or use the encrypted messaging apps Signal or Slack without lawyers present. .
Bankman-Fried, 30, has been freed on $250 million bond after pleading not guilty to fraud charges that stole billions of dollars from the now-bankrupt FTX.
Prosecutors said it was necessary to prevent witness tampering and other obstruction of justice in response to Bankman-Fried’s recent attempt to contact a potential witness against her, the general counsel of an FTX subsidiary.
But in a letter to U.S. District Judge Louis Kaplan in Manhattan, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said prosecutors had created “excessive” bail conditions without disclosing that the two sides discussed bail last week.
“Rather than wait for any response from the defense, the government sandbagged the process and filed this letter at 6:00 p.m. on Friday,” Bankman-Fried’s attorneys wrote. “The government clearly believes that a one-sided presentation – to put our client in the worst possible light – is the best way to get the result it’s looking for.”
Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said their client’s attempts to contact John Ray, the general counsel appointed as FTX’s chief executive during the bankruptcy, were efforts to provide “assistance” and not interference.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to comment.
Bankman-Fried’s attorneys proposed that their client have access to some colleagues, including her therapist, but were not allowed to speak to Carolyn Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors.
They said that because Bankman-Fried did not use the auto-delete feature, the signal blocking was not necessary and that he could be concerned that he was “unfounded.”
Prosecutors also asked for a bail condition barring Banker-Fried from accessing FTX, Alameda or cryptocurrency assets, saying there was “no evidence” that he was responsible for the previously alleged unauthorized transactions.
In an order Saturday, Kaplan gave attorneys until Monday to address Bankman-Fried’s concerns.
“The court expects all counsel to refrain from discrediting the actions and intentions of their adversaries,” the judge added.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci
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