A US federal judge has ruled that there is “probable cause” to believe that Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), former CEO of FTX, may have been involved in an attempted witness tampering. As a result, Bankman-Fried is reportedly considering possibly withdrawing his bail.
Possibly to prison until October
According to various accounts, during a Feb. 16 hearing on the terms of Bankman-Fried’s bail, Judge Lewis Kaplan stated that there was “probable reason to believe that he committed or attempted to commit a federal felony while released from prison, namely tampering with witnesses”.
Kaplan suggested that this could result in the FTX founder possibly being sent to prison until his trial in October. However, he noted that the February 16 hearing was not intended to withdraw bail, but added that it “may well happen”. Kaplan said the following:
Why am I being asked to let him loose in this garden of electronic devices?
Further restrict device usage
The potential witness tampering is therefore not a good idea for Bankman-Fried in his current circumstances, since he is currently still out on bail.
On Feb. 15, prosecutors requested that Judge Kaplan further limit Bankman-Fried’s device use to just one monitored computer and cell phone, due to his recent device use raising concerns.
Prosecutors sought to further limit and monitor his use of devices, “with some limited exceptions.” At the hearing, Judge Kaplan noted that it would be naive to think that these restrictions could prevent him from using the internet, as Bankman-Fried lives with both his parents, who both have laptops and cell phones.
District Attorney Nicholas Roos seemingly agreed, suggesting there may not be a “great solution,” leading Kaplan to suggest that withdrawing Bankman-Fried’s bail could remove these risks, noting:
There is a solution, but no one has suggested it yet.
Unknown if SBF has to go to prison
However, whether SBF actually has to go to prison until his trial will be heard is not known. SBF’s lawyers also argued that they need him to work on his defense, claiming: “We can’t go through this extensive financial data without him,” they said.
Since Feb. 9, the former CEO of FTX has been banned from using certain messaging apps after contacting potential witnesses. In addition, he was temporarily banned from using a VPN after prosecutors accused him of using it twice, on January 29 and February 12.
However, at the hearing on February 16, it was decided not to renew the VPN ban. Many people, both inside and outside the crypto community, have expressed disbelief that Bankman-Fried is still out on bail under these circumstances.