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Bankman-Fried Makes New Bid for Freedom Before Trial

Sam Bankman-Fried

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has renewed his bid for bail ahead of his fraud trial.

Attorneys for the one-time cryptocurrency wunderkind — who is set to go to trial next week — wrote to the judge in the case late Monday (Sept. 25) requesting that their client be granted bail to assist in his defense.

“We submit that we are finding it exceedingly difficult as a practical matter to adequately prepare for trial with the restrictions on access currently in place,” the defense team wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan.

“This is not a point we make lightly but it is the reality of the nature of this case,” the letter continued. “This case is highly technical and complex, and we need our client to help us understand the facts and explain many of the issues. He alone knows the facts which are also critical in preparing his defense.”

The request comes days after a federal appeals court denied Bankman-Fried’s request for bail.

Bankman-Fried, 31, is charged with multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy in connection with the collapse of FTX, at one time one of the largest, highly regarded crypto firms.

He was charged late last year following the company’s bankruptcy, and was free on bail until last month, when Kaplan agreed with the prosecution’s contention that Bankman-Fried had essentially attempted to commit witness tampering.

Prosecutors had accused Bankman-Fried of giving documents to reporters to intimidate a witness in the case. That came after a New York Times report described private writings by Caroline Ellison, head of FTX sister firm Alameda Research and a former romantic partner of Bankman-Fried.

Ellison has pleaded guilty to her role in FTX’s downfall and is expected to be a prosecution witness at Bankman-Fried’s trial.

“He has gone up to the line over and over again, and I am going to revoke bail,” said Kaplan.

Once Bankman-Fried was locked up, lawyers battled to get him improved internet access, filing a request to get him an internet-enabled laptop and access to a cellblock at the federal courthouse in Manhattan, five days a week ahead of the trial.

Prosecutors contend the restrictions are just inconveniences and haven’t prevented Bankman-Fried’s defense prep, and say the defendant has access to technology beyond what is normally available for prisoners in pre-trial detention.