FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried will head to a New York courtroom Thursday to face a federal judge who said his effort to contact a likely trial witness against him seemed designed so they would “sing out of the same hymn book.”
On Tuesday, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected Bankman’s-Fried’s lawyers’ request that oral arguments about his bail be cancelled because lawyers on both sides have settled their differences on necessary changes to his bail package in order to prevent inappropriate contact.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team is confident that they have ironed out all the kinks in the proposed bail agreement, which will now go before the presiding judge for final approval. This agreement, if accepted, would allow Bankman-Fried to remain out of jail pending his trial, which is currently scheduled
The arguments, set for Thursday morning, will proceed as scheduled, the judge ruled as he declined to immediately approve new bail conditions that defense lawyers said prosecutors had agreed with. Among the proposed new bail conditions was an exemption of certain individuals from a proposed no-contact list and permission for Bankman-Fried to place audio and video calls.
A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried’s attorneys declined to comment on why the proposed new bail conditions had been agreed to by prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors told Kaplan that Bankman-Fried’s communications indicate he may be trying to influence a witness with incriminating evidence against him. In a letter to the FTX general counsel, who isn’t named but is dubbed “Witness 1,” Bankman-Fried wrote, “I’d love to get on a phone call sometime soon and chat.”
Last week, Kaplan wrote that Bankman’s-Fried’s lawyers appealed to him to interpret the message “in a benign way.”
But he said their argument was not persuasive. “It’s as if they were trying to have both the defendant and Witness 1 sing out of the same hymn book,” Kaplan said.
The judge said a possible motive was evident from the fact that the general counsel was a witness to some events likely to be at issue in the case and Bankman-Fried faces the possibility of a long prison term if he is convicted.