FTX’s Bankman-Fried denies witness tampering, accepts gag order

July 23 (Reuters) – Lawyers for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried rejected prosecutors’ claims that his discussions with a New York Times reporter amounted to witness tampering but agreed to accept a gag order, they said in a letter to the judge in the criminal fraud case.

The letter, released on Sunday, came after prosecutors sought to bar Bankman-Fried and allies from making public statements that could interfere with the case.

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX, once valued at $32 billion, filed for bankruptcy protection in November as it was unable to repay depositors. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud.

In the letter, Bankman-Fried’s attorney confirmed he had spoken with and provided personal documents to the New York Times that included documents written by a former colleague, Caroline Ellison, who has cooperated with the U.S. government.

“Bankman-Fried did not violate the protective order in this case, nor did he violate his bail conditions, nor did he violate any law or rule governing his conduct,” Bankman-Fried’s lawyer Mark Cohen said in the letter.

An article published by New York Times titled “Inside the Private Writings of Caroline Ellison, Star Witness in the FTX Case” 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.

Reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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