Indicted former FTX head Sam Bankman-Fried is denying witness-tampering allegations levied against him by federal prosecutors.
According to a new court filing, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys say that federal prosecutors are mischaracterizing their client’s intentions for giving a New York Times reporter writings of his former romantic partner Caroline Ellison, who is an expected witness in the case against him.
Also, in a separate instance, his attorneys say that an unnamed witness initiated contact with their client, and that Bankman-Fried only responded to the witness in an attempt to help out with FTX’s bankruptcy proceedings.
“The Government is wrong. Its version of events mischaracterizes the facts and removes them from their proper context to cast Mr. Bankman-Fried’s actions and intentions in the most negative light possible.
The documents that have since been provided in discovery make clear that Witness-1 initiated the dialogue with Mr. Bankman-Fried and that Mr. Bankman-Fried’s message to Witness-1 was not an attempt to tamper with his testimony, but an attempt to offer himself as a resource in the bankruptcy. Mr. Bankman-Fried used the VPN [Virtual Private Network] to watch football and the Government has no evidence suggesting otherwise.
And Mr. Bankman-Fried’s contact with the New York Times reporter was not an attempt to intimidate Ms. Ellison or taint the jury pool. It was a proper exercise of his rights to make fair comment on an article already in progress, for which the reporter already had alternate sources.
The full record reflects that Mr. Bankman-Fried acted in good faith and without any improper or corrupt intent. This record does not support detention under either Section 3148 or 3142 of the Bail Reform Act.”
Last week, federal prosecutors asked a judge to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail, accusing him of witness tampering and impeding their investigation.
“The Government writes in further support of its motion for the defendant’s bail to be revoked and for the Court to enter an order of detention. The defendant’s attempts to tamper with witnesses and interfere with the Government’s and public’s right to a fair trial and the due administration of justice, and his pattern of circumventing his bail conditions in that pursuit, demonstrate that no set of pretrial release conditions can adequately assure the safety of the community and that the defendant is unlikely to fully abide by any conditions of release.”
Bankman-Fried is currently out on bail and living in his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.
The former CEO faces a slew of charges related to the November collapse of FTX, including allegations that he defrauded customers and mishandled billions of dollars worth of their funds. He’s also been accused of making illegal political donations. If convicted, he could face more than 100 years in prison.
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