US Judge Sam Bankman-Fried Attempts to Influence Witnesses via Encrypted Messenger App
Sam Bankman-Fried is the disgraced founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX. He allegedly tried to influence potential witnesses through encrypted messaging software Signal.
Federal prosecutors According to a Friday letter filed in Manhattan federal courts, the disgraced crypto boss reached out to the “current general counsel of FTX US” who could be a witness during the trial. Ryne Miller is the current council member of FTX USA. He was also a former Kirkland & Ellis partner. Miller was not named in the government filing.
Prosecutors claimed that Bankman-Fried sent Miller a Signal message on January 15. According to reports, he said that he would love to “reconnect” and to see if there was a way to have a constructive relationship.
After the new FTX management announced they had recovered more than $5 billion in cash, liquid assets and other assets that could be used to repay creditors, this move was made. The exchange’s advisors stated that it was “not yet clear” how large the settlement fund to FTX creditors would be.
According to the filing, SBF had also been in touch with “other current or former FTX employees” other than Miller. The US authorities claim that SBF’s request to Miller suggests an attempt to influence his testimony and that Miller’s efforts to improve their relationship “may be witness tampering.”
Prosecutors have asked the court for a ban on SBF’s use of the messaging platform because of concerns about witness tampering. They claim it is necessary to “prevent obstruction to justice.”
According to reports, the US Department of Justice had earlier this month cited potential conflicts of interests in opposing FTX’s hiring of Sullivan & Cromwell as the law firm tasked with investigating the exchange. Miller, the general counsel for FTX USA, worked eight years at S&C. According to the DOJ, the investigation would put the law firm in a conflicted situation of investigating its former partner and itself.
Before DOJ’s objection, a bipartisan group consisting of four United States senators (John Hickenlooper and Thom Tillis, Elizabeth Warren and Cynthia Lummis) lashed out at S&C almost for the same reasons.
FTX and its crypto-company group filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy early November. After US prosecutors filed formal criminal charges against Sam Bankman-Fried (the disgraced founder and CEO of FTX), he was arrested in The Bahamas. After posting a bond of $250m in New York, he was finally extradited to the USA.
SBF was charged with eight criminal offenses, including wire fraud and conspiracy to misuse customer funds. He pleaded not guilty earlier in the month. He will appear in federal court on October.