Federal prosecutors seek to bar FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) from using encrypted messaging like Signal. The feds are concerned the app could facilitate possible witness tampering.
Prosecutors claimed in a letter to a Manhattan judge that Bankman-Fried’s overtures to FTX US General Counsel Ryne Miller constituted attempted witness tampering. The government also referenced unreleased testimony from former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison to justify banning SBF.
CNBC reports that according to the letter, Bankman-Fried wrote to Miller via Signal. He reportedly asked for a “constructive relationship” and suggested using each other as resources. Prosecutors allege that in addition to Miller, SBF contacted “current and former FTX employees.” The government wants Bankman-Fried’s access to Signal — and other encrypted messaging platforms — cut off to “prevent obstruction of justice.”
Ex-Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison testified that Bankman-Fried indicated “many legal cases turn on documentation, and it is more difficult to build a legal case if information is not written down or preserved.”
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to a litany of fraud-related charges. After being released to his parent’s custody on a $250 million bond, he is due back in court in October. CNBC said he and his representatives have declined to comment on the situation.
The outcome of the prosecutors’ request regarding Signal will likely determine how the crypto community and authorities view encrypted messaging software in similar cases in the future. It remains to be seen whether this case will result in a new understanding of witness tampering related to encrypted messaging technology.