Thursday, September 28, 2023

SBF’s $250M bail guarantors should be made public, rules judge

Popular

The two people who helped former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried with his $250 million bail bond could have their identities revealed next month after a recent ruling by United States District Judge Lewis Kaplan.

According to the Jan. 30 filing, Kaplan granted the joint petition from eight media outlets to unseal the names of the two individuals, “for the limited purpose of asserting the public’s claimed right of access” to the identities. He noted, however, that there was not much weight in favor of either side of the argument.

An unsealing of the guarantors’ names also isn’t guaranteed, as Kaplan has given Bankman-Fried’s legal counsel until Feb. 7 to contest the decision. The judge wrote that an “appeal is likely” and stated that “if a notice of appeal from this order is filed by then,” he would extend the deadline to Feb. 14 to permit an application for a further stay to be made.

Bankman-Fried was released from custody in December after two unknown people signed on as sureties for the $250 million bond along with Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried.

Eight major media companies — including Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Reuters — demanded public disclosure of the two individuals responsible for guaranteeing the bond in a Jan. 12 letter addressed to District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan.

Attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, acting on behalf of the media giants, insist that “the public’s right to know Bankman-Fried’s guarantors outweighed their privacy and safety rights.”

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have, however, continued to argue that their identities should be kept a secret, as his parents have already been the subject of threats and the FTX founder and those linked to him face serious security risks. 

In his ruling, Kaplan said he has “no reason” to doubt threats had occurred but was yet to see “evidence to that effect,” adding:

“But it does not follow that the non-parental sureties would face similar threats and harassment.”

Kaplan further argued that Bankman-Fried’s parents faced intense scrutiny due to their close relationship with their son, and his father’s employment at FTX for a year prior to the exchange’s collapse.

“Thus, the defendant’s claim that the non-parental sureties would face similar intrusions is speculative and only entitled to modest weight,” he said.

“Moreover, the information sought, ie, the names of the bail sureties, traditionally is public information,” Kaplan added.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried: ‘I didn’t steal funds, and I certainly didn’t stash billions away’

In a Jan. 19 court filing, the lawyers for the former FTX CEO claimed that three men drove a car into the metal barricade outside Bankman-Fried’s parents’ home, where he is under house arrest.

The unidentified trio was reportedly able to drive away before security guards could record the car’s license plate.

Latest