Sam Bankman-Fried, US prosecutors close to new bail agreement
By Jonathan Stamp
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried are nearing a settlement with US prosecutors over revised bail conditions for the accused FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder, who is trying to persuade a skeptical judge to let him stay free.
In a letter filed Friday night in Manhattan federal court, Bankman-Fried attorney Christian Everdell said both sides believed they were “close to a resolution” and expected to formally propose new restrictions by next week.
Bankman-Fried, 31, is on trial Oct. 2 for stealing billions of dollars in FTX client funds to offset losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund and making large illegal political donations to buy influence in Washington, DC
Bail talks came this week after US District Judge Lewis Kaplan renewed his concerns at a March 10 hearing that Bankman-Fried’s electronic communications with others could exceed the limits of his $250 million bail package .
Kaplan’s approval is required to change Bankman-Fried’s bail.
The former billionaire has pleaded not guilty to eight counts and has not yet been charged in four counts. He lives under house arrest with his parents in Palo Alto, California.
Prosecutors raised the specter of witness tampering in January after Bankman-Fried tried to contact John Ray, who became FTX’s chief executive when the company filed for bankruptcy in November, and an internal attorney.
Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said their client tried to help not interfere.
At the March 10 hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys suggested giving Bankman-Fried a clamshell phone with no internet capability and a basic laptop with limited features.
That was too generous for Kaplan, who said Bankman-Fried was “inventive” and could potentially “circumvent” the restrictions without getting caught.
In Friday’s letter, Everdell also sought the judge’s permission to allow Bankman-Fried to use a laptop to access some FTX materials in the interim.
Although the laptop does not lack monitoring software or restrict Bankman-Fried’s Internet access, an attorney or attorney would monitor its use and take away the laptop when Bankman-Fried is done using it, Everdell said.
The case is US v. Bankman-Fried, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-cr-00673.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stamp in New York; Editing by Sonali Paul)