Flip phones and other non-smartphones could be the key to freedom for Sam Bankman-Fried. Prosecutors and Bankman-Fried’s attorneys are jointly asking the judge to approve a list of restrictions, one of which is the use of a flip phone or other non-smartphone.
The lawyers have been working hard to satisfy the concerns of Judge Lewis Kaplan, who said he could “conceivably” revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail after he found there was a “threat” of witness tampering.
The crypto entrepreneur reached out to the former general counsel of FTX and used a virtual private network, or VPN, days after the judge said he wanted to restrict the use of encrypted devices. The entrepreneur was very concerned that the judge’s order would prevent them from being able to continue their work.
Bankman-Fried was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud in what prosecutors allege is one of the largest financial frauds in US history. He pleaded not guilty to charges of using customer funds to prop up related hedge fund Alameda Research, making venture investments, and donating to political campaigns to influence policy.
Bankman-Fried has been released on a $250 million bond and is confined to the home of his parents, Stanford University law professors, in Palo Alto, California. The conditions of his release include wearing an ankle bracelet and staying within 100 yards of his parents’ home at all times.
Bankman-Fried’s new laptop will be set up so that he can only access the internet through specific VPNs. The VPNs will only allow him to visit websites that have been approved by the VPNs.
Among the websites are ones he could use to prepare for his defense, including Zoom, Microsoft Office, Python, and Adobe Acrobat. Monitoring tools also would be installed on his laptop and he would be prohibited from buying electronic devices.
Bankman-Fried would also be restricted from scrolling the internet, with his access limited to court-approved websites. The lawyers proposed several sites to help prepare his defense, including YouTube, read-only websites showing crypto prices, and research websites. Bankman-Fried also asked to view others for his personal use, including news sites, Netflix, Spotify, Uber Eats, Amazon, baseball and football sites, and a few other personal websites.