• Federal prosecutors have requested that a communications ban be imposed on FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried as part of his bail conditions.
• The DOJ alleges Bankman-Fried messaged FTX US General Counsel Ryne Miller on Signal, asking to reconnect and “vet things with each other.”
• The request seeks to prevent Bankman-Fried from using “any encrypted or ephemeral call or messaging application, including Signal, Wickr, Telegram, or WhatsApp.”
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of crypto derivatives exchange FTX, may soon be barred from using certain messaging applications if a court agrees to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) latest request. On Friday, prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan to modify the conditions of Bankman-Fried’s bail to include a ban on private communications with current and former employees of FTX and Alameda Research.
The DOJ’s request follows reports that Bankman-Fried attempted to influence the future witness testimony of at least one FTX employee – identified as Ryne Miller, the current general counsel for FTX US – by messaging him on a private communication platform. According to a court document filed by prosecutors on Friday, Bankman-Fried messaged Miller on Signal, asking to reconnect and “vet things with each other.”
The DOJ’s request seeks to prevent Bankman-Fried from using “any encrypted or ephemeral call or messaging application, including Signal, Wickr, Telegram, or WhatsApp.” The court document also states that Bankman-Fried will only be allowed to contact current and former employees of FTX and Alameda Research if “such communication is made in the presence of counsel for the defendant.”
It is unclear exactly why the DOJ is seeking to impose a communications ban on Bankman-Fried, but the request follows several other high-profile cases involving the alleged manipulation of cryptocurrency markets. Bankman-Fried has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but the DOJ’s request suggests that prosecutors may be investigating potential attempts to tamper with witness testimony.
A hearing has been scheduled for February 8th to discuss the DOJ’s request. It is unclear whether the court will grant the request, but if it does, it could have far-reaching implications for crypto exchanges and their founders. Should the court grant the request, it could set a precedent for similar cases in the future.