The suggestion surfaced amid discussions regarding the need for additional bail conditions following SBF’s contact with current and former FTX personnel.
Since Sam Bankman-Fried has been allowed to stay at his parent’s home until his trial this October, multiple missteps have occurred.
Between a long-winded rant on substack outlining his view of the collapse of FTX and attempts to contact the current CEO of the failed exchange as well as former employees to “help sort things out,” SBF’s internet presence has left a marked impression on the court.
Probable Cause for Witness Tampering
In a hearing on the 16th of February, Judge Lewis Kaplan stated that there is probable cause to believe that SBF has engaged in attempts to commit a federal felony while out on bail – namely, witness tampering, or at least an attempt at witness tampering.
As a result, prosecutors requested that Judge Kaplan significantly restrict Bankman-Fried’s access to computers and other devices, arguing he had found loopholes such as VPNs allowing him to circumvent his bail conditions.
“There is now a record before the Court of a defendant who appears motivated to circumvent monitoring and find loopholes in existing bail conditions.”
Defense Asks for Leniency, Judge Hints at Bail Reversal
In response, SBF’s attorney, Mark Cohen, reportedly acknowledged the need for closer supervision but asked for leniency nonetheless, according to CNN. He argued that SBF’s input is necessary in order to build up his defense case. In order to go through FTX’s financial records, internet access would be necessary, according to Cohen.
“My client understands what’s at stake here. He’s literally on trial for his life. We need him to work on this defense. We cannot go through these extensive financial records without him.”
The prosecutor conceded that there was no perfect solution. However, the judge stated that there is a solution, albeit one that had not been proposed yet, hinting at the reversal of SBF’s bail, citing a violation of the former mogul’s bail conditions.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the judge’s poorly-concealed suggestion holds no legal weight as of yet, as it was not a full proposal to the court.
Judge Kaplan did, however, propose the input of a security expert who would work for the judge and be paid by the defense. The security expert would advise the judge on technical matters in order to work out a new solution for SBF’s bail conditions regarding electronic devices.
Currently, the prosecution has proposed some new conditions that would allow SBF to access only his Gmail account and, for the purpose of communicating with lawyers, Zoom. Should this proposal be accepted, voice calls and text messaging would also be on the table.