FACT CHECK: Was Sam Bankman-Fried’s Bail Revoked Over Witness Tampering?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, purports former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has had his bail revoked and will be sent back to jail ahead of his upcoming trial for witness tampering.

Verdict: True

Multiple major media outlets, including The Associated Press and The New York Times, reported Bankman-Fried’s bail had been revoked on Aug. 11 over attempted witness tampering.

Fact Check:

Ahead of the news that Bankman-Fried’s bail had been revoked, federal prosecutors stated their intention to hold the former FTX CEO accountable for a campaign finance charge that was dropped in July, according to ABC News. Prosecutors had dropped the campaign finance charge after officials in the Bahamas said they did not intend to extradite Bankman-Fried on the charge, Reuters reported.

“JUST IN – Judge revokes bail for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried over witness tampering, crypto mogul sent back to jail pending trial,” the X post, viewed 74,000 times, purports.

The claim is true. Lewis A. Kaplan, a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail on Aug. 11 following prosecutors’ claims the former FTX CEO had attempted to harass a key witness in his case, according to The Associated Press. Kaplan also said he had probable cause to believe Bankman-Fried had attempted to “tamper with witnesses at least twice” since his arrest, the outlet reported.

A Jul. 28 letter addressed to Kaplan by prosecutors appears to confirm what The Associated Press reported. In the letter, the prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried initiated communication with FTX US’s General Counsel, who may be a potential trial witness, back in January 2023. Prosecutors also indicate Bankman-Fried provided documents that were not part of the government’s discovery materials to the authors of a recent New York Times article focusing on the private writings of his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, who is labeled a star witness in the case.

The defense counsel confirmed Bankman-Fried had met with one of the New York Times reporters in person and provided them the documents, according to the same letter.

The prosecutors said Bankman-Fried handed over the documents to intimidate Ellison and “cast her in a negative light” ahead of his October 2023 trial, the New York Times reported in a subsequent article. The article notes that Ellison is not only Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend but also one of his business executives. Ellison is the former CEO of Alameda Research, a firm that was started by Bankman-Fried to bet on low-liquidity altcoins, according to Coin Desk.

The former FTX CEO’s lawyers agreed to a gag order limiting his contact with individuals outside of the case, but Kaplan said one would not be sufficient in light of Bankman-Fried’s actions, CNN indicated. Bankman-Fried was then remanded to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, according to the outlet. (RELATED: No, All Charges Against Sam Bankman-Fried Have Not Been Dropped)

Bankman-Fried faces two trials, one in October 2023 and another in March 2024, the New York Post reported back in July. Bankman-Fried faces 12 charges that will be split across the two trials, the outlet indicated.

Check Your Fact has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Bankman-Fried’s attorney David Lisner for comment and will update this article if responses are provided.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter