Sam Bankman-Fried's Attempts to Influence Witnesses Show He Must Be Jailed Before Trial: DOJ

The DOJ filed a formal submission to a federal judge after declaring their intent to revoke his bond

AccessTimeIconJul 28, 2023 at 9:39 p.m. UTC
Updated Jul 31, 2023 at 3:15 p.m. UTC

U.S. prosecutors moved to revoke FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried's bond and move him to prison ahead of his October trial, alleging he has now repeatedly tried to influence witness testimony and his bail conditions are insufficient to protect the public.

Prosecutors with the Department of Justice filed a written submission to a federal judge Friday, following up on their Wednesday statement that they were "seeking detention" for Bankman-Fried after he shared diaries from former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison with the New York Times.

Bankman-Fried's releasing of Ellison's writings qualifies as him trying to harass her to either prevent or otherwise influence her testimony in court, the DOJ filing said.

"The defendant’s leaking of Ellison’s private writings is yet another instance of the defendant trying to intimidate and corruptly persuade Ellison with respect to her upcoming trial testimony, as well as an effort to influence or prevent the testimony of other potential trial witnesses by creating the specter that their most intimate business is at risk of being reported in the press," the filing said.

While Bankman-Fried has the right to defend himself in public, as his attorney Mark Cohen said he was trying to do in speaking with the Times, his sharing of the diary information goes beyond just making a fair comment, the DOJ said.

"What the defendant may not do, and what he has now done repeatedly, is seek to corruptly influence witnesses and interfere with a fair trial through attempted public harassment and shaming," the filing said.

During a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Lewis Kaplan, of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered the prosecution and defense to prepare formal documents on the DOJ's move to detain Bankman-Fried. The defense must respond by Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried's trial is set to begin Oct. 2, 2023.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.