FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bail has been revoked, and he has been sent to jail following allegations of witness tampering. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan decided on this course of action after prosecutors claimed that Bankman-Fried had attempted to harass a key witness in his fraud case recently.
The 31-year-old is facing charges of defrauding US investors, accused of embezzling billions of dollars, with substantial amounts reportedly used for political donations. He maintains his innocence.
Judge Kaplan expressed his belief in the existence of probable cause to suggest that Bankman-Fried had tried to tamper with witnesses on at least two occasions since his arrest in December. This led to Bankman-Fried being led out of the Manhattan federal court hearing in handcuffs by US Marshals Service personnel.
Formerly considered a billionaire and dubbed the ‘crypto king,’ Bankman-Fried had been on house arrest at his parents’ home in California after being extradited from the Bahamas. His $250 million bail came with stringent restrictions on internet and phone usage. However, prosecutors claimed that he breached these rules by sharing private writings of a key witness, Caroline Ellison, his ex-girlfriend and former CEO of Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading hedge fund that was part of his business portfolio.
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Prosecutors contended that Bankman-Fried’s actions were aimed at tarnishing Ellison’s reputation and influencing potential jurors ahead of his October trial. Ellison, who had previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges, had agreed to testify against Bankman-Fried in exchange for a potentially more lenient sentence.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team argued that his actions were driven by a desire to defend his reputation amid negative media coverage. They asserted his right to communicate with the press and criticized the evidence provided by prosecutors, describing it as relying on “innuendo, speculation, and scant facts.”
Following the detention request from prosecutors, Judge Kaplan imposed a gag order that prevents trial participants, including Bankman-Fried, from making public comments regarding the case.