US federal prosecutors are seeking to return fallen crypto star and former CEO of FTX crypto exchange, Sam Bankman-Fried, to prison. According to preliminary hearings, the Justice Department aims to prevent Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, from further leaking sensitive material to the press and influencing witnesses.
Detainment Request and Allegations:
Reuters reported on Wednesday afternoon that the US prosecution intends to hold Sam Bankman-Fried in custody, stating that “none of the release conditions can ensure the safety of the community.” This would mean revoking Bankman-Fried‘s $250 million bail. Presently, he is under house arrest at his parents’ home in California.
In court, prosecutors claimed that Bankman-Fried had made approximately 100 calls to a “New York Times” reporter, some of which lasted more than 20 minutes. Furthermore, SBF is accused of using Google Drive and Google Docs accounts to leak confidential information to the “Times.”
Judge Lewis Kaplan did not immediately rule on the prosecution’s request, giving the defense until early August to respond to the Justice Department’s allegations.
The Incident and Alleged Intimidation:
The situation unfolded after the “New York Times” published a report containing entries from the diary of Bankman-Fried’s former partner, Caroline Ellison. Ellison, the former head of the hedge fund Alameda Research founded by Bankman-Fried, is the main witness for the prosecution. She has been cooperating with the FBI since she and some other former FTX executives confessed to receive reduced sentences.
Prosecutors view the leaked information by Bankman-Fried as an attempt to tarnish Ellison’s reputation and disclose court-relevant details outside the regular disclosure processes. During Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutors argued that releasing excerpts from the diary was meant to intimidate Ellison and send a message to other witnesses, making it a clear case of witness intimidation.
Ellison had expressed in her diary entries that she was feeling “overwhelmed” with her work and lamented about her past relationship with Bankman-Fried. As of now, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys have not responded to the allegations.
In addition to the fraud charges, Sam Bankman-Fried is facing further lawsuits. Last Thursday, FTX Trading sued Bankman-Fried and other former executives of the crypto exchange, seeking over a billion dollars to be repaid, allegedly misappropriated.