Sam Bankman-Fried May Have Tried to Influence Witness Testimony: Prosecutors

Key Takeaways

  • Sam Bankman-Fried may have tried to influence or intimidate a potential witness in the case against him.
  • On January 15 he reached out to FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller by Signal, asking to “reconnect” and “vet things with each other.”
  • Prosecutors think he should be banned from communicating with former or present FTX or Alameda Research employees without a lawyer being present.

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By reaching out to the FTX US general counsel through Signal, Sam Bankman-Fried may have tried to influence a potential witness’ testimony—or to intimidate them into not testifying at all—claim U.S. prosecutors. 

Stricter Bail Conditions for SBF

Sam Bankman-Fried might see his bail conditions tighten.

Last Friday U.S. prosecutors expressed concerns to the court that the former FTX CEO could be attempting to influence witnesses in the fraud case against him. They cited a Signal message Bankman-Fried sent to FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller on January 15, in which he stated: “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.”

According to prosecutors, Bankman-Fried’s attempt at reaching out to Miller—who may have damaging information about him—was “suggestive of an effort to influence [their] potential testimony.” Even if it wasn’t the case, they said, his contact could intimidate Miller into not coming forward or testifying. They also pointed to Bankman-Fried using Signal (an encrypted messaging app that gives users the ability to auto-delete their messages) to communicate as a source of concern.

Prosecutors therefore asked for the court to ban Bankman-Fried from communicating with current or former FTX and Alameda Research employees without a lawyer being present. Exempt from the condition were his family members: his father, Joseph Bankman, his mother, Barbara Fried, and his brother, Gabriel Bankman-Fried. 

They also asked for Bankman-Fried to be restricted from using Signal or any other encrypted messaging service. Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison told prosecutors that Bankman-Fried had previously instructed FTX Signal and Slack communications to auto-delete within 30 days as a precautionary measure against potential legal cases.

Bankman-Fried’s legal counsel responded to the request by stating that prosecutors were trying to portray the disgraced crypto founder “in the worst possible light.” 

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and several other crypto assets.

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