Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced co-founder of FTX, is seeking access to crypto assets associated with FTX and Alameda Research, according to a letter written by his attorney, Mark Cohen. Cohen insists that the existing bail conditions “related to crypto asset transfers should be removed.”
Bankman-Fried’s Legal Team Argues for Removal of 2 Bail Conditions
In a letter to the Southern District of New York (SDNY) judge Lewis Kaplan, Sam Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, explains that his team believes Bankman-Fried’s current bail conditions are unfair and should be removed. Bankman-Fried was indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan and faces eight charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission, and campaign finance violations.
The former FTX CEO was released on bail and the court’s Judge Kaplan imposed certain bail restrictions on Bankman-Fried. For instance, the defendant has been remanded to his parents’ home in California with a government-monitored ankle bracelet. Cohen, a white-shoe lawyer who represented Ghislaine Maxwell during her recent sex trafficking case, requests that “two additions” be removed from Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions. The first is that Bankman-Fried is currently prohibited from speaking with Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, Nishad Singh, two redacted witnesses, and George Lerner (Bankman-Fried’s therapist).
Cohen stresses that the bail condition is “overbroad” and Bankman-Fried’s intentions to contact these individuals are attempts to “offer assistance in FTX’s bankruptcy process.” The lawyer notes that this type of communication “does not reflect misconduct.” Cohen gives an example, detailing that the government’s bail condition means that “Bankman-Fried could not speak to his therapist, who is a former FTX employee, without the participation of his lawyers.”
While the government has raised concerns over Bankman-Fried’s use of Signal and “other ephemeral messaging applications,” Bankman-Fried’s legal team opines that the concerns are unwarranted. “The government’s proposed bail condition regarding ephemeral messaging applications should not be imposed,” Cohen’s letter to Judge Kaplan details.
SBF Seeks Access to Crypto Assets Linked to FTX and Alameda Research
Additionally, Bankman-Fried is seeking rights to access specific crypto assets associated with FTX and the quantitative trading firm Alameda Research. “[Bankman-Fried is] prohibited from accessing or transferring any FTX or Alameda assets or cryptocurrency, including assets or cryptocurrency purchased with funds from FTX or Alameda,” the bail conditions note.
Bankman-Fried’s legal representation is urging the judge to drop the bail condition, as the team believes the conditions are unjustified. The government’s justification was bolstered by the recent transfers of FTX and Alameda-linked funds, Cohen detailed in the letter. However, Bankman-Fried has “repeatedly denied any involvement in the transfers” and he contacted the government as soon as he noticed the funds move. At a pretrial conference on January 3, 2023, prosecutors said they were still “investigating” who was responsible for the crypto transfers.
Cohen concludes that it’s been three weeks since the conference, and the legal team assumes the government’s investigation has proven “that he did not access and transfer these assets.” If investigators have figured out that Bankman-Fried did not transact with the cited crypto assets, then “existing bail condition related to crypto asset transfers” should cease. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers sum up the letter by stressing that given the “sole basis advanced for seeking that condition has not been supported,” Bankman-Fried’s litigation firm wholeheartedly believes that the “bail condition imposed at the conference should be removed.”
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