Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed, was sent to jail on Friday after a federal judge in New York revoked his bail. This happened just two months before the anticipated trial was scheduled to take place. Since his arrest in December on fraud charges related to FTX’s implosion, Bankman-Fried had been under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California. However, prosecutors argued that he had provided documents to the media to intimidate a witness in the case, leading Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to revoke his bail.
After the judge read the order, Mr. Bankman-Fried was asked to remove his jacket as the U.S. marshals prepared to handcuff him. His parents were present in the courtroom, and his mother, Barbara Fried, attempted to approach him but was instructed to stand back by a court officer. Eventually, he was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lawyer stated that he intended to appeal the judge’s decision. However, Judge Kaplan did not wait for the outcome of the appeal before sending him to jail. This courtroom scene adds to the series of humiliations for Bankman-Fried since the collapse of his cryptocurrency company. FTX was once one of the industry’s leading companies but filed for bankruptcy after a run on deposits. Bankman-Fried quickly went from being a well-regarded industry figure to a criminal defendant possibly facing significant prison time.
Now, Bankman-Fried will have to prepare for his trial from a jail cell. The bail dispute centered around an article published in The New York Times that revealed private writings by Caroline Ellison, an executive in Bankman-Fried’s business empire who was also his former girlfriend. Ellison has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Bankman-Fried. Prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of giving documents to The Times to intimidate Ellison and cast her in a negative light before his trial. They also noted his numerous conversations with other journalists, including Michael Lewis, who is writing a book about FTX set for publication the week the trial begins.
The court filings also highlighted a temporary gag order imposed by Judge Kaplan, preventing Bankman-Fried from speaking to the media. Bankman-Fried’s defense team argued that he was exercising his right to respond to media inquiries when he provided the documents to The Times and that he did not violate the terms of his bail. However, Judge Kaplan concluded that Bankman-Fried’s communications with the media were intended to intimidate or influence witnesses, which is not protected speech if it aims to commit a crime.
Bankman-Fried’s arrest took place in the Bahamas, where FTX was based when the company collapsed. He was extradited to the United States and released on restrictive bail conditions, including wearing an ankle monitor and being confined to his parents’ house. However, since his release, he has faced repeated reprimands for behavior that prosecutors argue crossed the boundaries of what he was allowed to do while awaiting trial. These included sending messages to a former FTX executive who might be a witness and using a virtual private network without proper supervision.
The latest blow came with the article about Ellison published in The Times. Judge Kaplan considered this to be the last straw, as Bankman-Fried intended to portray Ellison in an unfavorable light by sharing the documents. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argued against the revocation of the bail, citing the difficulty he would face in preparing for the trial at the Brooklyn detention center. Judge Kaplan expressed openness to considering alternate facilities or arrangements to address these concerns but ultimately Bankman-Fried was sent to the federal facility in Brooklyn for the time being.
In conclusion, the founder of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, has been sent to jail after his bail was revoked by a federal judge in New York. This turn of events occurred less than two months before his highly anticipated trial. Bankman-Fried’s actions, including providing documents to the media, were seen as intimidation tactics against a witness in the case. This courtroom scene is just another blow to Bankman-Fried, whose cryptocurrency company went from being a leading industry figure to a collapsed business and now a criminal defendant potentially facing decades in prison.