A federal judge has denied a joint agreement between Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried’s legal team and prosecutors that would have allowed the former FTX CEO to use certain messaging apps.
In a February 7 filing with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Lewis Kaplan denied a motion proposing that Bankman-Fried be allowed to use messaging services, including FaceTime, Zoom and Facebook Messenger. The judge gave no reason to deny the “without prejudice” motion, but added that the matter would be the subject of oral argument at a hearing on February 9.
Prosecutors filed a motion in January suggesting that the former FTX CEO not be allowed to use “any encrypted or ephemeral calling or messaging app” as a condition of his bail following allegations of contacting witnesses. Judge Kaplan ruled on February 1 that SBF was prohibited from contacting FTX and Alameda employees using the Signal app, citing a risk of “inappropriate contact with potential witnesses.”
However, federal prosecutors discussed with Bankman-Fried’s lawyers the possibility of modifying the bail condition, which would have allowed her access to FaceTime, Zoom, iMessage, SMS, email and Facebook Messenger. The former FTX CEO would also have been allowed to use WhatsApp if “monitoring technology that automatically records and retains all WhatsApp communications is installed on his mobile.”
Authorities alleged that Bankman-Fried had attempted to influence witnesses based on communications uncovered between SBF and FTX US General Counsel Ryne Miller and current FTX CEO John Ray.. The February 1 ruling does not allow communications between SBF and current or former employees of FTX or Alameda Research “except in the presence of an attorney.”
Bankman-Fried was arrested in December and charged with eight criminal counts, including wire fraud in the Southern District of New York. His trial is scheduled to begin in October, while the FTX bankruptcy case proceeds in the District of Delaware. SBF remains under house arrest at his parents’ home in California, and is only allowed out for authorized acts, including court appearances.
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