Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried agreed to pay for a security expert to help the federal judge overseeing his fraud case navigate technology issues as they seek to keep the FTX founder out of jail before his trial. The security expert will help the court understand the complex technology at the heart of Bankman-Fried’s case, and may also be called on to testify during the trial.
In a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys agreed with his proposal for a security expert who would work solely for the judge. They said they would propose potential candidates by the end of the week.
At a bail hearing last week, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer revealed that his client has been using encrypted messaging and a virtual private network, or VPN, to communicate with potential witnesses, raising concerns about possible evidence tampering. Judge Kaplan suggested the lawyer hire a technical expert to help him navigate the issues.
The judge has been working hard to find a way for Bankman-Fried to have access to communication channels so he can prepare his defense against the potential misuse of those apps or VPNs. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors have asked for strict bail conditions limiting the crypto entrepreneur’s use of messaging platforms after becoming alarmed that Bankman-Fried contacted a former FTX employee who is a government witness. The concerns of the prosecutors intensified when they discovered that Bankman-Fried had used a VPN twice in the past few weeks, including just days after a bail hearing in which the judge expressed concern about the use of encryption. The judge said the outreach could be probable cause to believe Bankman-Fried had committed a crime while out on bail.
Bankman-Fried’s attorneys insist that their contact with the former employee and use of a VPN was “benign.” They also told the judge that FTX’s attorneys informed them that they would need to use a VPN to access documents and data that is held on a cloud server.
Bankman-Fried’s bail hearing last week ended with the judge suggesting he could revoke the FTX founder’s bail if he was unable to get comfortable with bail terms that would allow the internet entrepreneur to access the internet after a series of missteps, including potential witness tampering.