The identities of two people who helped secure Samuel Bankman-Fried’s bail can be made public, a federal judge has ruled. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan put his order on hold until February 7 to allow for an appeal. If a notice of appeal is filed before then, the hold can be extended another week to allow for a request to the higher court to stay the order further, the judge said.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan ruled in favor of several media outlets including Reuters that sought the names. The judge said that while the public had only a “weak” right to know who Bankman-Fried’s guarantors were, it outweighed Bankman-Fried’s arguments for confidentiality, including that the guarantors’ safety could be imperiled.
Kaplan also said the names will remain under seal until at least Feb. 7, because “the question presented here is novel and an appeal is likely.” A spokesman for Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, who represent Bankman-Fried, declined to comment. Bankman-Fried, 30, has been confined at his parents’ home in California, after pleading not guilty to fraud for allegedly looting billions of FTX customer dollars.
His parents, both professors at Stanford Law School, had co-signed a $250 million bond for their son, with two other guarantors required to sign $500,000 and $200,000 bonds.
Bankman-Fried was released from federal custody in December after putting up a $250 million bail package, which included two people signing on as sureties but who weren’t identified. The mystery guarantors signed bonds of $500 000 and $200 000 respectively. Bankman-Fried’s parents also put up their home in Palo Alto, California, as security.
Multiple media organisations, including Bloomberg, opposed the redaction of the non-family sureties’ names and asked the court to unseal the information. In an opinion issued on Monday, Kaplan granted the applications “for the limited purpose of asserting the public’s claimed right of access” to the identities, saying there’s not much weight in favour of either side of the arguments.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers had argued for the identities to be kept secret, saying there was no need for public disclosure and the people would face harassment. “The information at issue is entitled only to weak presumption of access, yet the countervailing factors are not sufficiently persuasive to overcome even that presumption,” the judge wrote.
There is no danger of impairing law enforcement, Kaplan said, and the privacy interests of the co-signers were limited. “The non-parental bail sureties have entered voluntarily into a highly publicised criminal proceeding by signing the individual bonds,” he wrote.