A federal judge on Thursday extended a ban on Sam Bankman-Fried contacting his ex-business associate after the accused cryptocurrency fraudster was caught messaging the general counsel of his former company in January.
At a Manhattan federal hearing, Judge Lewis Kaplan barred Bankman-Fried from contacting current or former employees of crypto exchange FTX and hedge fund Alameda until at least Feb. 21.
The judge initially ordered the restriction on Bankman-Fried’s communications on Feb. 1 after prosecutors found he messaged the general counsel of FTX — a potential trial witness — while he was out on bail in the sprawling fraud case.
“I would really love to reconnect and see if there’s a way for us to have a constructive relationship, use each other as resources when possible, or at least vet things with each other,” Bankman-Fried wrote to the employee in an encrypted message on Jan. 12.
Prosecutors wrote the message was “suggestive of an effort to influence Witness-1’s potential testimony.”
In his order, Kaplan said the message appears to have “been an effort to have both the defendant and Witness-1 sing out of the same hymn book.”
The order also bars the accused scammer of using “encrypted or ephemeral call or messaging application, including but not limited to Signal.”
Federal prosecutors and Bankman-Fried’s attorneys will submit letters to Kaplan next week explaining how they intend to keep a record of the shaggy-haired accused schemer’s digital communications.
Kaplan said restrictions proposed by prosecutors and Bankman-Fried’s attorneys earlier this week still present a “real risk of misuse” because of the sheer number of ways he could contact people associated with the case.
“There’s still snail mail and email and all kinds of ways to communicate,” Kaplan said.
Bankman-Fried was arrested and charged by federal authorities in December, who allege he swindled investors and customers of FTX by commingling funds into Alameda, a hedge fund he controlled.
He was also hit with a campaign finance charge for allegedly funneling ill-gotten money into political donations.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty.
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