Sam Bankman-Fried remains prohibited from using any messaging apps.
Lewis Kaplan, a United States district judge serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, has denied Sam Bankman-Fried lawyers' motion to allow SBF to use certain messaging apps.
In the filing published on February 7th, the federal judge did not specify the reasons for such a decision but noted:
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The letter motion (Dkt 61) is denied without prejudice pending oral argument, which remains scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on February 9, 2023.
It is worth noting that, at the end of January, the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked United States District Judge Lewis Kaplan to forbid Sam Bankman-Fried from communicating with “current or former employees” of crypto exchange FTX and crypto trading firm Alameda Research. On top of that, the DOJ asked to ban SBF from using “any encrypted or ephemeral call or messaging application.”
On February 1st, Lewis Kaplan approved such a proposal and banned Sam Bankman-Fried from contacting FTX and Alameda Research employees through the Signal app, as it imposes a risk of “inappropriate contact with prospective witnesses.” However, Kaplan noted that if SBF wants, he can communicate with employees “in the presence of counsel.”
On February 6th, SBF’s legal team asked the judge to modify bail conditions and allow the former FTX CEO to use FaceTime, iMessage, email, SMS text, Zoom, and Facebook Messenger. Moreover, lawyers asked to let SBF use WhatsApp if “monitoring technology is installed on his cell phone that automatically logs and preserves all WhatsApp communications.”
It appears that the federal judge’s decision may be related to Sam Bankman-Fried's recent attempts to influence witnesses playing a crucial role in SBF’s criminal case. The news was uncovered through leaked communications between Bankman-Fried and current FTX CEO John Ray as well as FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller.
Former crypto exchange FTX CEO is charged with eight criminal counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy, with the trial set to start in October.