Bankman-Fried may use only non-smartphones: Prosecutors

Sam Bankman-Fried’s communication device was a flip phone or other “non-smartphone” with no internet capability or such access disabled while he was on bail, prosecutors said.

Limiting the FTX founder’s access to a device that became popular when he was about three years old is the latest development in a fight in his communications. The functions of his phone are limited to voice calls and SMS text messages.

Bankman-Fried, 30, remains free on a $250 million bond but is at her parents’ home in California with a monitoring device on her ankle. In a letter to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Friday, prosecutors said the parties agreed to changes to the conditions of Bankman-Fried’s release.

Other restrictions include prohibiting him from speaking with current or former employees of FTX or its Alameda Research trading arm other than family members unless an attorney is present. He also cannot use encrypted or ephemeral call or messaging applications, including Signal.

A Bankman-Fried spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal.

Kaplan has threatened to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail package entirely and send her to prison before her October trial if a Manhattan judge is not satisfied with the restrictions.

Bankman-Fried stands accused of a massive fraud that culminated in the collapse of FTX last November. In several public communications, he accepted responsibility for the debacle but said he had done nothing illegal, and pleaded not guilty.

The agreement was filed just days after former FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh pleaded guilty to fraud as part of a deal to work with prosecutors against his old employer. Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison pleaded guilty last year to charges related to their respective roles at the cryptocurrency exchange and Alameda, and also worked in the US.

According to Friday’s letter, Bankman-Fried was banned from using a virtual private network, or VPN, on her phone that encrypts internet use and disguises a user’s identity. Kaplan banned Bankman-Fried’s use of VPNs last month after her lawyers said she used one to watch football games.

The judge also expressed concern that the accused could use apps like Signal to influence potential witnesses.

The agreement allows Bankman-Fried access to a laptop but he must log on through a VPN that allows access to websites in only two categories: those his lawyers consider to be necessary to prepare a defense; and sites for other purposes that the US has concluded are non-hazardous.

A second list of 23 websites for Bankman-Fried’s personal use included various news sites, Netflix, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

The agreement includes Bankman-Fried’s mother and father, too, having to submit sworn statements listing the serial numbers and MAC addresses for their iPhones, Apple laptops and a desktop iMac, according to the filing.

The case is US v. Bankman-Fried, 22-cr-673, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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