Judge Overseeing Bankman-Fried Fraud Trial Threatens To Revoke Bail, Throw SBF In Prison Over VPN Use
Don't expect to see any more random, headscratching tweet from SBF ever again.
On Thursday, the federal judge overseeing Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial threatened to revoke the FTX co-founder’s $250 million bail package and throw him in prison if severe restrictions weren’t placed on his use of electronic devices and apps.
As Bloomberg reports, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said at a Thursday hearing on his bail conditions in downtown Manhattan that he didn’t think a government proposal that would limit Bankman-Fried to one monitored cell phone and laptop and restrict his use of Zoom to communicating with counsel was sufficient.
WATCH: Sam Bankman-Fried arrives for a hearing on his bail conditions in federal court in Manhattan. pic.twitter.com/wWLmswBEz2— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) February 16, 2023
The hearing follows concern over Bankman-Fried’s reported use of encrypted messaging app Signal to contact FTX’s US general counsel, a potential witness in the case, and his use of virtual private networks. Both technologies could allow him to shield his communications from the government.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, who has argued his client’s use of apps and VPNs was "innocent" called the government proposal “Draconian” on Thursday, prompting a fiery response from the judge.
“It isn’t the government who contacted the witness,” Kaplan admonished Cohen. The judge added that, though the hearing wasn’t over bail revocation, “it could get there eventually.”
Kaplan also expressed skepticism about Bankman-Fried’s laughable claim that he used a VPN to watch football, including the Superbowl, while out on bail at his parents’ house in Palo Alto, California.
“So what he was doing was sitting in California in the United States using the VPN to create the impression that he was going to use this international subscription from outside the US,” the judge suggested. Cohen responded that he had wished he had bought his client a television from Best Buy because “there isn’t a television in the house.”
Also, the judge appears to share our sense of humor: two days ago we suggested that billionaire SBF was using VPNs to download bittorents movies.
*BANKMAN-FRIED BANNED FROM USING VPN'S WHILE OUT ON BAIL— zerohedge (@zerohedge) February 14, 2023
so he won't download bittorrent movies any more?
Cohen said Bankman-Fried understood what was at stake and that he was “on trial for his life” and added “There is no margin for error,” even though SBF has repeatedly and clearly showed he believes his Democratic donations and political connections give him a mile-wide margin for not only error but to do whatever he wants. “If there is any violation of whatever order the court fashions, we’ll deal with an entirely different proceeding.”
Kaplan gave the parties until the end of next week to submit proposals for how to modify the bail package, suggesting that the defense hire a consultant who can advise the judge on how to handle the issues.