Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced wunderkind whose cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX imploded last November, will go from house arrest at his parents’ home to jail, a judge has ordered ahead of his trial on fraud charges, Rolling Stone reported.
In a Friday hearing, Judge Lewis Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan formally revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail, ending his residence with his family in Palo Alto, California, as he prepares a legal defense for a blockbuster case centered on the ruins of a company once valued at $32 billion. The 31-year-old, admired as a brilliant crypto kingpin until his downfall, had been extradited from the Bahamas, where FTX was headquartered, in December. He originally posted a bond of $250 million to be released into his parents’ custody.
Sam Bankman-Fried headed to jail on Friday after a judge sided with a request by federal prosecutors to revoke the FTX founder’s bail over alleged witness tampering, CNBC reported. Bankman-Fried was remanded to custody directly from a court hearing in New York and sent to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, Bureau of Prisons records show.
Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Bankman-Fried’s request for delayed detention pending on appeal. Unless the appeal is successful, he is expected to remain in custody until his criminal trial, which is due to begin on Oct. 2.
“My conclusion is there is probable cause to believe the defendant tried to tamper with witnesses at least twice,” said Judge Kaplan during his ruling.
According to CNBC, the government had requested that Bankman-Fried be remanded to a jail in Putnam, New York, where he’d have access to a laptop with internet access for defense preparation, as opposed to sending him to the Metropolitan Detention Center, the facility closest to the courthouse with limited internet access for prisoners.
CNN reported that prosecutors sought to revoke bail after what they described as a series of violations by Bankman-Fried, including contacting potential witnesses against him, using a virtual private network to subvert monitoring and speaking with a reporter about former FTX executive Caroline Ellison.
Ellison, who is also Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend, is one of several former business partners who has taken an appeal deal and plans to testify against him.
According to CNN, Judge Kaplan on Friday sided with the prosecutors’ claim that Bankman-Fried was “covering his tracks” when he allegedly leaked Ellison’s personal documents to the New York Times by allowing a reporter to review them in-person. Kaplan added that leaking an ex-girlfriend’s intimate writings would only be done “to hurt, discredit and frighten the subject of the material.”
Since his arrest in December, he has repeatedly broken with standard legal advice when it comes to speaking to the media. CNN reported that he has blogged, tweeted, and appeared on live interviews to broadcast his version of FTX’s downfall. In his telling, he admits to making mistakes as CEO but says he never knowingly committed fraud.
I suppose the lesson of what happened to Sam Bankman-Fried is one that other CEOs of crypto companies should pay attention to. Some mistakes, whether done with intent or carelessness, can send a crypto CEO to jail.