Written by 10:25 am Science & Technology Views: [tptn_views]

Sam Bankman-Fried tried to influence witness through Signal, DOJ alleges

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (C) arrives to file an appeal before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in federal court in Manhattan, New York, January 3, 2023.

Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors are attempting to bar indicted FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried from using messaging encryption software, citing efforts that will “constitute witness tampering,” based on a letter filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday.

Bankman-Fried contacted “current FTX US general counsel who could also be a witness on the trial,” prosecutors said. Ryne Miller, whose name has not been identified in government records, is current general counsel for FTX US and a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

The government says Bankman-Fried wrote to Miller via Signal, an encrypted messaging app, on Jan. 15, days after bankruptcy officials on the crypto exchange revealed the recovery of greater than $5 billion price of FTX assets.

“I’d really wish to reconnect and see if there is a way for us to have a constructive relationship, use one another as resources if possible, or not less than check in with one another,” Bankman-Fried allegedly told Miller.

Bankman-Fried was also in touch with “other current and former FTX employees,” the filing reads. Federal prosecutors say Bankman-Fried’s request suggests an try and influence the witness’ testimony, and that Bankman-Fried’s efforts to enhance his relationship with Miller “may in themselves constitute witness manipulation.”

Both Miller and a Bankman-Fried representative declined to comment.

By restricting Bankman-Fried’s access to Signal and other messaging platforms, the federal government cites the necessity to “prevent obstruction of justice.” Federal prosecutors say Bankman-Fried directed Alameda and FTX through Slack and Signal and ordered his employees to set communications to “delete robotically after 30 days or less.”

Citing previously undisclosed testimony from former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, the federal government said Bankman-Fried identified that “many lawsuits are based on documentation, and it’s harder to construct a legal case if the knowledge is not written down or preserved.” Ellison has pleaded guilty to multiple fraud charges and is working with the U.S. Attorney to construct a case against Bankman-Fried.

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight counts in reference to the collapse of his multi-billion-dollar crypto empire, FTX. He is because of appear in federal court in October after being released on $250 million bail.

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