According to the January 27th report, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been charged with trying to get in touch with a prospective witness in his ongoing criminal case.
SBF interacted with the general counsel of the U.S. branch of FTX via email as well as the encrypted messaging platform Signal, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York stated in a court document.
After FTX’s demise the year before, SBF was under investigation for fraud, money laundering, and violating campaign finance laws. On January 15th, SBF informed FTX U.S.’s general counsel in a letter that he would:
really love to reconnect and see if there’s a way for us to have a constructive relationship, use each other as resources when possible, or at least vet things with each other.
Per the filing, the contact appeared to be an attempt to influence Witness 1’s testimony. However, which is concerning given that the defendant is aware that Witness 1 may have information that might implicate them.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is in charge of SBF’s case, has been asked by the prosecution to prohibit him from using Signal or any other services to communicate with present or former FTX employees.
The prosecution asks Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is in charge of SBF’s case, to prohibit him from using Signal or any other services to communicate with present or former FTX employees. Combining the suggested bail requirements would more successfully stop the criminal from manipulating justice.
Past Usage Encryption By FTX Former CEO
SBF used Signal extensively during his time at FTX since it allowed users to remove communications instantly. He also instructed staff members at FTX and Alameda Research to configure their communications to delete after 30 days automatically.
The filing said:
The autodeletion of FTX and Alameda’s Slack and Signal communications has impeded the government’s investigation. Potential witnesses have described relevant and incriminating conversations with the defendant that took place on Slack and Signal that have already been autodeleted.
Therefore, this most recent step in the case emphasizes the difficulties locating digital evidence in situations involving bitcoin and encryption.
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We’ll probably see more cases of defendants employing digital currency and encrypted chat applications to hinder justice as these technologies’ popularity rises.