The founder of the defunct crypto exchange FTX has submitted a renewed request to the Court for a temporary release ahead of his upcoming trial which is scheduled for 3 October 2023. The letter that was filed on Monday was addressed to Judge Kaplan, who is overseeing the case.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) lawyers stated that granting the request was “necessary for preparation of his defence”. It was first asked in August when SBF’s release on bond was revoked. Following this, the founder was locked up after a judge ruled that he had probably tried to tamper with witnesses.
Bankman-Fried had to continue preparing his defence from behind bars after this as a US federal judge refused to grant his motion for temporary release on 12 September. A week later, an appeals court rejected an attempt to overturn the ruling too.
The latest refiling of the request has asked the founder’s release from jail a day before the start of his trial till during the course of the trial. The letter mentioned how the Court had previously noted that it “understands the difficulties of preparing a complex case for trial”.
On the same lines, the lawyers argued: “We submit that we are finding it exceedingly difficult as a practical matter to adequately prepare for trial with the restrictions on access currently in place. This is not a point we make lightly but it is the reality of the nature of this case. This case is highly technical and complex, and we need our client to help us understand the facts and explain many of the issues.”
As claimed by the lawyers, SBF alone knows the facts that are “critical in preparing his defence”. As a result, they believe that his knowledge and insight cannot be replicated by third-party experts due to their lack of familiarity with the underlying facts. Therefore, they cannot provide the necessary help.
They also mentioned other practical realities for defending the complex case for SBF. This includes the list of over 50 potential witnesses, thousands of pages of 3,500 material, and over 1,300 exhibits provided by the government. The lawyers argued that most of these consist of complex financial records and, on top of that, they have no indication of which witnesses the government would call or in what order and which exhibits they plan to introduce.
In saying that, the defence counsel expressed that they would be unable to properly represent Bankman-Fried unless they are able to confer with him and prepare for the next day’s witnesses and exhibits in the hours when they are not sitting in the courtroom. This cannot be achieved unless the founder is temporarily released for trial.
The renewed attempt came along with five conditions that SBF is willing to adhere to. It has been proposed that when not in the courtroom, SBF must be with his attorneys at his attorneys’ offices or offsite workspace, or with a security guard in a temporary residence in New York City, where he will live for the duration of the trial. He should be able to leave the courthouse with his attorneys and travel with them to their offices or offsite workspace to prepare for trial.
Bankman-Fried will be escorted by a private security guard to and from his lawyers’ offices/workspace, his temporary residence, and the courthouse. He will remain with SBF in the temporary residence throughout the evening and will meet the founder at his lawyers’ offices/workspace when in need of an escort.
The guard will also ensure that Bankman-Fried does not have access to any computers, cell phones, internet, television, or any other electronic devices. At the start of this month, his defence lawyers had argued over SBF’s access to a laptop computer, expressing concerns about the founder’s ability to work on his defence from jail.
Bankman-Fried will not be permitted any visitors in his temporary residence too. And finally, he will consent to a gag order prohibiting him from speaking to anyone but his attorneys, parents and brother during the course of the trial.