Former FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is out on bail awaiting trial—and the process of getting him to pledge $250 million has proven exhaustive and secretive.
- Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the former CEO of one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world before its bankruptcy in November, entered a not-guilty plea on Tuesday for fraud charges.
- He has been on bail for several weeks, living in his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.
- His lawyers filed a letter on Tuesday asking for the names of the two people who pledged $250 million in bail, one of the most extensive bail packages in history, to be redacted to protect them from public scrutiny, Bloomberg says.
- The arrangement of releasing SBF on bail may not be pleasing to FTX’s alleged victims but the process of getting him to the U.S. for trial in the first place from The Bahamas was already an exhaustive one.
- He is expected to go on trial in late 2023.
Why It’s Important
It isn’t unheard of for bail signers to have their names redacted for the sake of avoiding media and personal scrutiny or negative implications. Convicted child trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell held a similar arrangement with individuals who paid for her bail before her trial. In the case of SBF, his alleged actions have affected millions and are believed to have destroyed billions of dollars in wealth. Naming the two individuals could put them in potential danger.
“If the two remaining sureties are publicly identified, they will likely be subjected to probing media scrutiny and potentially targeted for harassment, despite having no substantive connection to the case. Consequently, the privacy and safety of the sureties are ‘countervailing factors’ that significantly outweigh the presumption of public access to the very limited information at issue,” says Bankman-Fried’s lawyers.
SBF’s attorney Mark S. Cohen also represented Maxwell.
Backing up a Bit
New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin notes that the process of getting SBF to trial has already been a long negotiation. SBF’s parents were forced to use their house as collateral and find two additional non-relational signees to help cover 10% of the bail cost, which could be levied against all four individuals should SBF not appear before the court when he is appointed.
As we previously reported, SBF was arrested in The Bahamas several weeks before his extradiction and forced to stay in one of the most dangerous prisons in the world, Fox Hill Prison. U.S. prosecutors want to avoid the perception that the justice system is moving too slowly against SBF. At the same time, SBF wanted out of Fox Hill. His extradition without conflict in exchange for a bail posting helped the process move more smoothly.
“The Justice Department and Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers ultimately negotiated over how to extradite him in exchange for letting him stay out of prison without posting a huge bond, given his lack of funds … Of course, many FTX customers remain furious about this arrangement, given how many poorer defendants are stuck in prison,” says Sorkin.