Proposed gag order in SBF’s criminal case under review, citing attempt to ‘influence public opinion’

Tuesday, 25 Jul 2023

Cointelegraph By Turner Wright

Original Article

The proposal followed a complaint filed by U.S. authorities alleging Sam Bankman-Fried had leaked Caroline Ellison’s private journals in an attempt to interfere with the trial.


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The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, also known as “SBF,” may consider a proposed order largely preventing all involved parties and their attorneys from contacting the media.

In a July 24 letter filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Attorney’s Office drafted a proposed order that would prohibit people directly involved with the case or anyone acting on their behalf from “publicly disseminating or discussing” information not considered admissible at trial, or “intended to influence public opinion.” As part of the conditions for his $250 million bail, Bankman-Fried is already barred from using messaging apps, virtual private networks and other technology.

The proposed order followed a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on July 20 alleging the former FTX CEO had leaked former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison’s private journals to The New York Times. On July 23, lawyers for Bankman-Fried said in a court filing that “nothing improper or impermissible occurred.”

Under its current wording, the proposed order added that SBF would be personally barred from using “surrogates, family members, spokespersons, representatives, or volunteers” to make statements on his behalf. However, speaking to the media regarding information already available in public court filings or proceedings, or claims of innocence, would not be prohibited.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried’s brother planned to buy island and prep for apocalypse: court filing

Ellison, both a former business associate and romantic partner of SBF, will reportedly offer testimony in his first criminal trial, scheduled to begin on Oct. 2. In December 2022, she pleaded guilty to charges including fraud related to the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Lawyers representing SBF had requested Judge Lewis Kaplan extend any media gag order to include potential witnesses in the criminal case, including current FTX CEO John Ray. The July 24 order does not appear to apply to witnesses. Since FTX filed for bankruptcy in November 2022, Ray has often spoken to different media outlets on a variety of topics related to the exchange.

Magazine: Can you trust crypto exchanges after the collapse of FTX?

Update (July 24 at 7:45 PM UTC): This article previously misstated the proposed gag order came from Judge Lewis Kaplan. It has been changed to reflect the order came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


Cointelegraph By Turner Wright

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