Sam Bankman-Fried’s attorneys and U.S. prosecutors are nearing a deal on new bail terms for the founder of the indicted FTX cryptocurrency exchange, who is attempting to persuade a sceptic judge that he should be allowed to go free.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney Christian Everdell wrote in a letter that was submitted on Friday night to the federal court in Manhattan that both parties thought they were “close to a resolution” and that they anticipated officially proposing new limits by next week.
The bail trial for Sam Bankman-Fried, 31, is scheduled for October 2. He is accused of making sizable unlawful political contributions to gain influence in Washington, D.C., and of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to cover losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Bail negotiations started this week as a result of U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s renewed worries that Bankman-Fried’s electronic contacts with others might go over the limit of his $250 million bail package at a hearing on March 10.
Kaplan’s approval is needed to modify Bankman-Fried’s bail.
The former billionaire has pleaded not guilty to eight counts, and not yet been arraigned on four. He is living under house arrest with his parents in Palo Alto, California.
Prosecutors raised the specter of witness tampering in January after Bankman-Fried tried to contact John Ray, who became FTX’s chief executive when the company filed for bankruptcy in November, and an in-house lawyer.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have said their client was trying to help, not interfere.
At the March 10 hearing, prosecutors and defense lawyers proposed giving Bankman-Fried a flip phone with no internet capability and a basic laptop with limited functions.
That was too generous for Kaplan, who said Bankman-Fried was “inventive” and could conceivably “find a way around” the restrictions without being caught.
In the letter sent on Friday, Everdell also requested the court’s approval to allow Bankman-Fried to use a laptop while waiting to view some FTX materials.
Even though there would be no tracking software or restrictions on Bankman-Fried’s access to the internet, a lawyer or paralegal would supervise his use and remove the laptop once Bankman-Fried was done using it, according to Everdell.
The case is United States v. Bankman-Fried, Southern District of New York U.S. District Court, No. 22-cr-00673.