The identities of two people who helped secure Samuel Bankman-Fried’s bail can be made public, a federal judge has ruled.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan put his order on hold until February 7 to allow for an appeal. If a notice of appeal is filed before then, the hold can be extended another week to allow for a request to the higher court to stay the order further, the judge said.
Bankman-Fried was released from federal custody in December after putting up a $250 million bail package, which included two people signing on as sureties but who weren’t identified. The mystery guarantors signed bonds of $500 000 and $200 000 respectively. Bankman-Fried’s parents also put up their home in Palo Alto, California, as security.
Multiple media organisations, including Bloomberg, opposed the redaction of the non-family sureties’ names and asked the court to unseal the information.
In an opinion issued on Monday, Kaplan granted the applications “for the limited purpose of asserting the public’s claimed right of access” to the identities, saying there’s not much weight in favour of either side of the arguments.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers had argued for the identities to be kept secret, saying there was no need for public disclosure and the people would face harassment.
“The information at issue is entitled only to weak presumption of access, yet the countervailing factors are not sufficiently persuasive to overcome even that presumption,” the judge wrote.
There is no danger of impairing law enforcement, Kaplan said, and the privacy interests of the co-signers were limited. “The non-parental bail sureties have entered voluntarily into a highly publicised criminal proceeding by signing the individual bonds,” he wrote.
But the judge noted the “question here is novel and an appeal is likely,” which is why, he said, he put his order on hold.
In a related development, US prosecutors also doubled down on their request for the court to impose fresh bail conditions on Bankman-Fried after he sent an encrypted message and email to a former FTX employee.
In a letter filed on Monday, prosecutors said Bankman-Fried tried to stall the US bankruptcy case involving FTX to help foreign regulators, to whom he had transferred FTX assets.
Bankman-Fried told Gary Wang, FTX’s former chief technology officer who is a cooperating government witness, that he thought foreign regulators would be more lenient with him and might “permit him to regain control of FTX,” according to the letter.
Prosecutors have asked the judge to restrict Bankman-Fried’s contact with potential witnesses — former and current FTX employees — without his attorneys presence and to prohibit him from using encrypted messaging.
The case is US v. Bankman-Fried, 22-cr-673, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)
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