US prosecutors accuse FTX’s Bankman-Fried of witness tampering

NEW YORK, (Reuters): US prosecutors have accused FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried of witness tampering and asked a federal judge to issue an order that would bar the former billionaire and other parties from making public statements likely to interfere with a fair trial.

The prosecutors wrote to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Thursday referencing a New York Times article titled “Inside the Private Writings of Caroline Ellison, Star Witness in the FTX Case”.

The article reported excerpts from Ellison’s personal Google documents from before the collapse of FTX in which she spoke about being “pretty unhappy and overwhelmed” with her job and feeling “hurt/rejected” from her breakup with Bankman-Fried.

Ellison led Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research hedge fund and has pleaded guilty to defrauding investors and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

In December, Bankman-Fried said he and Ellison had been in a relationship but gave no further details.

Prosecutors said it was apparent Bankman-Fried shared documents with the New York Times and that his lawyers have since confirmed to the government that he met with one of the article’s authors in person and shared documents “that were not part of the government’s discovery material.”

Bankman-Fried’s spokesperson and lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The New York Times declined to comment, and Ellison’s lawyers did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The prosecutors argued that by sharing these documents, Bankman-Fried was trying to malign Ellison’s credibility, and that such conduct could chill witnesses from testifying and taint the jury pool.

“By selectively sharing certain private documents with the New York Times, the defendant is attempting to discredit a witness, cast Ellison in a poor light, and advance his defense through the press and outside the constraints of the courtroom and rules of evidence: that Ellison was a jilted lover who perpetrated these crimes alone”, prosecutors wrote in the letter.

Earlier on Thursday, FTX Trading sued founder Bankman-Fried and other former executives of the cryptocurrency exchange, seeking to recoup more than $1 billion they allegedly misappropriated before FTX went bankrupt.

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