NEW YORK, Jan. 28 (Reuters) – Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried on Saturday urged a US judge not to bar the indicted FTX cryptocurrency manager from communicating with former colleagues as part of his bail. client in the ‘worst possible light’.
The lawyers were responding to a Friday night request from federal prosecutors that Bankman-Fried not be allowed to talk to most employees of FTX or his Alameda Research hedge fund without lawyers present, or use the encrypted messaging apps Signal or Slack and potentially send messages. can delete automatically.
Bankman-Fried, 30, is out on $250 million bail since pleading not guilty to fraud charges in plundering billions of dollars from now-bankrupt FTX.
Prosecutors said their request was in response to Bankman-Fried’s recent attempt to contact a potential witness against him, the general counsel of an FTX affiliate, and that it was necessary to avoid witness tampering and other obstruction. to prevent legal proceedings.
But in a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said prosecutors called the “exaggerated” bail terms without disclosing that both parties had discussed bail over the past week.
“Instead of waiting for a response from the defense, the government sandbagged the trial and filed this letter at 6 p.m. Friday night,” Bankman-Fried’s lawyers wrote. “The government apparently believes that a one-sided presentation – designed to paint our client in the worst possible light – is the best way to get the desired result.”
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers also said their client’s attempts to contact general counsel and John Ray, who had been appointed CEO of FTX during the bankruptcy, were attempts to offer “help” and not intervene. come.
A spokesman for Manhattan attorney Damian Williams declined to comment.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers suggested that their client should have access to some colleagues, including his therapist, but not speak to Caroline Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, who have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.
They said a signal ban is not necessary because Bankman-Fried does not use the auto-delete feature, and concerns that he could do so are “unfounded”.
The lawyers also asked to lift a bail condition that prevented Bankman-Fried from accessing FTX, Alameda or cryptocurrency assets, saying there was “no evidence” that he was responsible for previous alleged unauthorized transactions.
In an injunction on Saturday, Kaplan gave prosecutors until Monday to address Bankman-Fried’s concerns.
“The court expects all counsel to refrain from pejorative characterizations of their opponents’ actions and motives,” the judge added.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Edited by Andrea Ricci
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