As Sam Bankman-Fried faces questions over his use of a VPN, the identity of the $250 million bond guarantors are revealed
Fresh developments in the case of former crypto multi-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, after his bond guarantors are revealed.
Meanwhile Reuters reported that US prosecutors on Wednesday have urged the case judge to impose tight restrictions on Sam Bankman-Fried’s internet use, arguing existing conditions “leave too much room for inappropriate conduct.”
It comes after Bankman-Fried was ordered to return to a Manhattan courtroom this week, after it emerged he had used a virtual private network (VPN) whilst under strict house arrest.
Former CEO and co-founder of FTX, Bankman-Fried has been under house arrest since he pleaded not guilty to federal fraud and conspiracy charges over his role in the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange, when a multi-billion dollar hole was found in its balance sheet.
Bankman-Fried faces a possible 115 years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin on 2 October this year.
But US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered Bankman-Fried to appear before his court on Thursday after he was notified that Bankman-Fried had used a virtual private network (VPN) twice in the past month.
As part of his bail conditions, Judge Kaplan had barred the 30-year-old from contacting current or former employees at his exchange and Alameda Research hedge fund, and from using encrypted messaging apps such as Signal that let users auto-delete messages.
That ban came after federal prosecutors in Manhattan raised concerns Bankman-Fried may be trying to influence potential witnesses ahead of his October trial.
On Wednesday, prosecutors reportedly said Bankman-Fried’s use of a VPN to access the internet after the ban was imposed raised further concerns.
According to Reuters, they urged Judge Kaplan to bar him altogether from using the internet except to review evidence against him or use email on his Gmail account.
“The defendant is a technologically sophisticated person with both the ability and the inclination to seek workarounds of more narrowly drawn bail conditions,” prosecutors reportedly wrote.
Bankman-Fried should be allowed to use voice calls and SMS messages on his mobile phone, but should only be allowed to use Zoom to communicate with his lawyers, prosecutors wrote.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers however said his efforts to contact FTX’s current general counsel and chief executive were attempts to help, not to interfere.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said in a letter to the judge that Bankman-Fried had used the VPN to access an NFL Game Pass international subscription that he used when he lived in the Bahamas to watch NFL playoff and Super Bowl games while out on bail in the US.
Nonetheless they proposed adding a bail condition that barred him from using a VPN unless one was needed to access prosecutors’ evidence so he could prepare his defence.
They proposed letting him communicate by phone, email, SMS text messaging and Twitter direct messaging, while disabling iMessage from his phone, Reuters noted.
Meanwhile CNBC has reported that separate court documents earlier on Wednesday revealed that a former Stanford University law school dean and a computer science researcher at the school co-signed Bankman-Fried’s bond, alongside his parents.
Bankman-Fried is currently out on $250 million bond and is under house arrest (and has to wear an ankle bracelet) at his parents home in California.
Earlier on Wednesday, Judge Kaplan ordered the release of documents showing former Stanford Law School dean Larry Kramer signed a $500,000 bond to ensure Bankman-Fried’s return to court, and Stanford computer science researcher Andreas Paepcke signed a $200,000 bond, CNBC reported.
Bankman-Fried’s parents Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, who are both Stanford law professors, had also pledged their Palo Alto, California home as collateral as part of the $250 million bail package ensuring their son’s return to court.
In a statement, Kramer said he and his wife have been friends with Bankman and Fried for decades. He said they had been supportive in the past two years “while my family faced a harrowing battle with cancer.”
“In turn we have sought to support them as they face their own crisis,” Kramer wrote. “My actions are in my personal capacity, and I have no business dealings or interest in this matter other than to help our loyal and steadfast friends.”
According to CNBC, Paepcke did not respond to a request for comment.