Updated Aug 11, 2023, 3:44pm EDT
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Sam Bankman-Fried to be jailed over witness tampering allegations

REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

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A judge ordered Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the now-defunct FTX crypto trading firm, to be jailed until his upcoming criminal trial after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering.

At a Friday hearing, Judge Lewis Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail, saying that he attempted to tamper with witnesses on at least two occasions.

The Department of Justice had alleged that Bankman-Fried (a previous Semafor investor) leaked documents to the New York Times in an attempt to discredit Caroline Ellison, his ex-girlfriend and the co-CEO of his hedge fund, who plans to testify against him in the upcoming trial. The documents constituted Ellison’s diary entries.

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Federal prosecutors have cited several incidents where Bankman-Fried violated his bail conditions in their efforts to convince US District Judge Lewis Kaplan that he should be in jail leading up to his criminal trial slated for October.

Bankman-Fried, who is under house arrest in California on a $250 million bail, is allowed to use his laptop with restrictions. But prosecutors alleged that he downloaded a VPN earlier this year in order to watch the Super Bowl. He also allegedly downloaded Signal — a self-encrypting and deleting messaging app — in order to message FTX’s general counsel, who is also expected to testify against him.

“I would really 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 wrote in the message, according to prosecutors.

He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering. He will have a separate trial in March 2024 for additional charges of bribery and bank fraud.