SBF restricted from using Signal, communicating with FTX employees

Federal judge Lewis Kaplan has imposed communication restrictions on former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, as seen in a Feb. 1 court filing.

The ruling imposes two restrictions. First, Bankman-Fried will be barred from using encrypted and self-deleting messaging apps, including Signal ⁠— a popular messaging app that he has used to contact associates in the past.

Second, Bankman-Fried will be barred from communicating with current and former employees of FTX and Alameda Research unless those individuals are exempted, are his immediate family members, or unless he is in the presence of legal counsel.

Government prosecutors have been attempting to have the judge impose those conditions on Bankman-Fried since Jan. 27. Prosecutors later filed documents containing Bankman-Fried’s attempted conversations with a witness (presumed to be FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller) and with FTX replacement CEO John Ray III.

The prosecutors assert that Bankman-Fried contacted those individuals in an attempt to influence their testimony. Bankman-Fried, on the other hand, has suggested that his attempted conversations were related to FTX’s separate bankruptcy case.

Kaplan said today that Bankman-Fried’s “benign” explanation “does not appear, on a preliminary basis, to be a persuasive reading.” Kaplan noted that Bankman-Fried described repairing an apparently personal relationship in his messages.

The judge also noted that when Bankman-Fried headed FTX, he told others to enable auto-deletion in certain apps. He also allegedly told former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison that legal cases could be made difficult by a lack of preserved information.

As such, Kaplan said today that there is sufficient risk to warrant the imposition of new restrictions on Bankman-Fried during his bail period.

The restrictions could be reversed after Bankman-Fried and his legal team present their own argument in a cross-application, which will be heard in court on Feb. 7. If Bankman-Fried’s challenge fails, the judge’s final decision will see the ban continue.

Bankman-Fried and his legal team will also attempt to reverse restrictions on his ability to access FTX and Alameda Research funds at that time.

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