Sam Bankman-Fried, arrested on fraud charges last year following the collapse of his cryptocurrency firm, has been ordered by a US judge to await trial in detention.
The 31-year-old was handcuffed in the courtroom and escorted away, leaving his mother in tears following the judge’s decision.
Judge Lewis Kaplan concurred with the prosecutors’ assertions that Mr. Bankman-Fried had attempted to manipulate witnesses anticipated to testify against him.
Mr. Bankman-Fried firmly refuted these allegations.
During the court session on Friday, Judge Kaplan stated, “There is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice.”
The hearing, revolving around the decision to revoke Mr. Bankman-Fried’s bail, took place before his trial, scheduled for October.
The 31-year-old was arrested in December on allegations of misappropriating funds from investors and customers of his defunct cryptocurrency exchange, FTX. These funds were purportedly used to cover real estate, political donations, and to offset losses within his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Disputing these accusations, the former billionaire was released on a $250 million bond to his parents’ residence in Palo Alto, California.
Upon the judge’s order, he was required to relinquish personal items from his pockets and remove his tie, jacket, and shoelaces before being taken into custody by the US Marshals Service on Friday.
In court, his father was also present, placing his hand over his heart as his son was led away in handcuffs.
Earlier this year, the court had already imposed stricter limitations on Mr. Bankman-Fried due to his attempts to contact individuals involved in the case and his use of a virtual private network.
The recent appeal from prosecutors stemmed from a July article published in the New York Times. The article featured confessional writings from Caroline Ellison, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend and the former CEO of Alameda.
In the article, Ms. Ellison, who pleaded guilty to fraud last year and is set to testify against Mr. Bankman-Fried, discussed their breakup and her sense of being “overwhelmed” at work.
Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Bankman-Fried had shared these documents in an attempt to portray Ms. Ellison as a “jilted lover” who acted independently, aiming to influence public opinion. They further contended that this action could intimidate other potential witnesses, causing them to fear “personal humiliation and efforts to discredit their reputation” beyond what would be allowed in court. Prosecutors revealed that he had engaged in approximately 1,000 phone calls with members of the press in recent months.