Sam Bankman-Fried, a co-founder of FTX who has been charged with a crime, is prohibited from using encrypted chat software, according to a document sent to a federal court in Manhattan on Friday. The prosecution claims that this could “constitute witness tampering.” According to the prosecution, Bankman-Fried contacted the “current General Counsel of FTX US who may be a witness at trial.” Ryne Miller, a current counsel for FTX US and a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis, was not mentioned by name in the federal complaint.
The government asserts that Bankman-Fried communicated with Miller via the secure messaging service Signal on January 15, just days after crypto exchange bankruptcy officials announced the recovery of more than $5 billion in FTX assets. “I would love to reconnect and see if there’s a way for us to have a constructive relationship, use each other as resources when possible, or at least vet things with each other,” Bankman-Fried allegedly told Miller.
Sam Bankman- Fried has communicated with other former FTX employees
According to the complaint, Bankman-Fried has communicated with “other current and former FTX employees.” According to federal prosecutors, Bankman-request Fried’s reflects an attempt to sway the witness’ testimony, and his efforts to strengthen his bond with Miller “may themselves constitute witness tampering.” Miller and a Bankman-Fried spokesman both declined to respond.
The government claims that blocking Bankman-use Fried’s of Signal and other encrypted texting services is necessary to “prevent obstruction of justice.” According to federal prosecutors, Bankman-Fried instructed his staff to designate messages to “autodelete after 30 days or less” and directed Alameda and FTX through Signal and Slack.
The government asserted that Bankman-Fried said, “many legal cases turn on documentation, and it is more difficult to build a legal case if the information is not written down or preserved,” citing previously released evidence from former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison. Ellison admitted to several counts of fraud and has assisted the U.S. Attorney in assembling evidence against Bankman-Fried.
To eight counts related to the demise of his multibillion-dollar crypto company, FTX, Bankman-Fried entered a not-guilty plea. He was released on a $250 million bond and is scheduled to appear in federal court in October. Following claims of possible witness tampering, prosecutors have urged the federal judge hearing the case against FTX cofounder Sam Bankman-Fried to bar him from speaking with current or former workers. The Department of Justice asserted in a letter submitted Friday in federal court that Bankman-Fried spoke with FTX’s present general counsel, among others, over the encrypted messaging service Signal.