Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (C) arrives to enter his arraignment before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in federal court in Manhattan, New York, on January 3, 2023.

Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors are trying to bar accused FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried from using encrypted messaging software, citing efforts that could “constitute witness tampering,” according to a letter filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday.

Bankman-Fried reached out to “the current general counsel of FTX US, who may be a witness at trial,” prosecutors said. Ryan Miller, who was not named in the government filing, is a current consultant to FTX US and a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

The government alleges that Bankman-Fried wrote to Miller via Signal, an encrypted messaging app, on Jan. 15, days after the crypto exchange’s bankruptcy officials made public the return of more than $5 billion in FTX assets.

“I’d really like to reconnect and see if there’s a way we can have a constructive relationship, use each other as resources if possible, or at least check in on each other,” Bankman-Fried allegedly told Miller.

Bankman-Fried also had contact with “other current and former FTX employees,” the statement said. Federal prosecutors argue that Bankman-Fried’s request involves an attempt to influence the testimony of a witness, and that Bankman-Fried’s attempt to improve relations with Miller “may itself constitute witness tampering.”

Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In limiting Bankman-Fried’s access to Signal and other encrypted messaging platforms, the government cited the need to “prevent obstruction of justice.” Federal prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried managed Alameda and FTX through Slack and Signal and directed his employees to set communications to “automatically delete in 30 days or less.”

Citing previously undisclosed testimony from former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, the government argued that Bankman-Fried noted that “many lawsuits involve documentation, and if the information is not recorded or preserved, it’s harder to build a case.” Ellison pleaded guilty to multiple fraud charges and cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in building the case against Bankman-Fried.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to eight charges related to the collapse of his multibillion-dollar crypto empire FTX. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in October after being released on $250 million bail.

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