Attorneys for former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried asked that he be allowed to communicate electronically again after being barred from doing so in January. The request came in a letter sent to District Court Southern District of New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan after prosecutors alleged Bankman-Fried may have engaged in witness tampering.
In exchange for allowing Bankman-Fried to have supervised communication, his attorneys say they will not fight the order barring him from transferring assets related to FTX and Alameda Research.
Federal prosecutors said in a four-page filing the former billionaire, who is currently facing life in prison on charges of fraud and conspiracy, tried to contact Ryne Miller, general counsel for FTX US, through the Signal encrypted messaging app.
“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,” U.S. prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried wrote.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Mark S. Cohen and Christian R. Everdell, now say an agreement was reached concerning Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions after the government exempted specific individuals from the proposed no-contact condition.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney asked Judge Kaplan to permit the use of FaceTime, iMessage, Zoom, SMS texts, email, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
“The defendant shall be permitted to use WhatsApp only if monitoring technology is installed on his cellphone that automatically logs and preserves all WhatsApp communications,” the letter said.
In the original order barring Bankman-Fried’s use of messaging apps, Bankman-Fried was specifically ordered not to use any encrypted or “ephemeral” call or messaging application, including but not limited to Signal.
Ephemeral messaging applications allow users to set a time limit on how long a message stays on the app. Signal, for example, enables custom time limits including from 30 seconds to four weeks. While the feature can be used for nefarious purposes, these features are also used by journalists and activists to communicate while limiting the chance rogue governments can intercept their communications.
On December 12, 2022, Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the United States a week later. The U.S. Department of Justice has charged Bankman-Fried with eight counts of money laundering, fraud, and conspiracy.