The legal team behind former FTX chief executive officer Sam Bankman-Fried has petitioned a court to redact certain information on individuals acting as sureties for his $250-million bond, citing threats made against his family.
In a letter dated Jan. 3 filed to Judge Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York, Bankman-Fried’s legal team requested the court order “names and other identifying information” of two bail sureties not be disclosed to the public and redacted from bonds once they were signed on Jan. 5. Mark Cohen of the law firm Cohen & Gresser said that if the individuals’ personal information were to be available, they could be subject to similar harassment as the former FTX CEO’s parents, Barbara Fried and Joseph Bankman.
“In recent weeks, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents have become the target of intense media scrutiny, harassment, and threats,” said Cohen. “Among other things, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents have received a steady stream of threatening correspondence, including communications expressing a desire that they suffer physical harm. Consequently, there is serious cause for concern that the two additional sureties would face similar intrusions on their privacy as well as threats and harassment if their names appear unredacted on their bonds or their identities are otherwise publicly disclosed.”
Fried and Bankman secured their son’s release on bail in December on a $250 million bond, using the equity of their Palo Alto home in which Bankman-Fried is currently under house arrest. Cohen cited legal precedent that the lack of public disclosure around others willing to financially back SBF would “preserve higher values” and not hamper the court’s judicial power:
“If the two remaining sureties are publicly identified, they will likely be subjected to probing media scrutiny, and potentially targeted for harassment, despite having no substantive connection to the case. Consequently, the privacy and safety of the sureties are ‘countervailing factors’ that significantly outweigh the presumption of public access to the very limited information at issue.”
Crypto Twitter users speculated as to the identities of the unnamed sureties, tossing out names including Kevin O’Leary and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. One suggested Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao may have helped Bankman-Fried — an unlikely conclusion given the two crypto heads’ clashes on social media amid FTX’s bankruptcy.
Bankman-Fried was extradited to the United States following his arrest in the Bahamas in December. He is expected to appear in court in person on Jan. 3 to reportedly enter a not-guilty plea on the criminal charges, which include wire fraud, securities fraud, and violations of campaign finance laws.
FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison have already pleaded guilty to related charges and begun cooperating with authorities. Ellison also offered a statement in December acknowledging the financial ties between FTX and Alameda at the center of prosecutors’ case against SBF.