Prosecutors and attorneys for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried are demanding that the disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur be allowed a flip phone or other non-smartphone device on bail
March 4, 2023 7:06 pm ET
• 2 minutes reading time
Prosecutors and attorneys for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried are demanding that the disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur be allowed a flip phone or other non-smartphone device on bail.
The proposal, tabled in a letter on Friday, comes as the judge in the case decides how to tighten Bankman-Fried’s bail requirements amid concerns the former billionaire is communicating through electronic devices in untraceable ways.
Prosecutors alleged Bankman-Fried used a virtual private network that blocks third parties from seeing online activity, known as a VPN, to access the internet twice last month. They also said he sent an encrypted message via the Signal SMS app to FTX US’ general counsel in January, a move they argued could indicate witness tampering.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to defrauding investors and looting customer deposits on FTX, its cryptocurrency platform.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is overseeing the case, has raised the possibility that Bankman-Fried may need to be jailed if his communications cannot be monitored to ensure the integrity of the trial. The former FTX chief was released on a $250 million bond in December and is confined to his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.
Under the proposal, Bankman-Fried’s phone capabilities would be limited to SMS text messaging and voice calling. He would also receive a new limited-use laptop that is “configured to only allow him to log into the internet through certain VPNs,” which only allows access to whitelisted websites. These include sites he can use to prepare for his defense, like Ftx.com, and personal news sites, like The New York Times and Netflix.
In the letter, both sides said Bankman-Fried would also be given access to several applications to prepare for his defense, including Zoom, Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. The parties also suggested installing monitoring software on the device to track all activity and requiring Bankman-Fried’s parents to provide affidavits that they “do not bring additional devices into the house” or access their own password-protected devices allow.
Kaplan has yet to decide whether to agree to the proposal.