Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to a gag order preventing him from making comments to third parties that may interfere with his trial — but argues other potential witnesses should be gagged as well, including current FTX CEO John Ray.
The gag order against Sam Bankman-Fried was initially requested on July 20, when the U.S. government accused the FTX founder of attempting to interfere with a fair trial by publicly discrediting former business partner and witness Caroline Ellison in an interview with the New York Times.
In a July 22 letter to United States District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of New York, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers Cohen & Gresser LLP denied the accusations but agreed to accept a gag order as requested.
A gag order is a legal order often issued by a court to restrict information or comment from being made public or passed onto any unauthorized third party. In this case, Bankman-Fried will no longer be able to make comments that publicly discredit a government witness by sharing confidential information that may taint the jury pool.
However, in accepting the relief, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers also want the same gag order to be applied to all parties and witnesses that could be involved in his criminal trial.
“We respectfully request that any such relief, however, should apply not just to Mr. Bankman-Fried, but equally to all ‘parties and witnesses’ — namely, the Government and all potential witnesses in this case.”
This would include the U.S. government, former employees of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, FTX Debtor entities, Alameda Research and other potential witnesses involved in the case, according to the attorneys.
Explaining the request, the lawyers said there has been a “toxic media environment” surrounding their client since the collapse of the exchange, noting that FTX CEO John Ray was one of the bigger culprits.
“Most notably, the current CEO of the FTX Debtor entities, John J. Ray III, who has routinely (and gratuitously) attacked and vilified Mr. Bankman-Fried in his public comments and filings in the FTX bankruptcy proceedings,” they said.
“Mr. Ray’s repeated ad hominem attacks on Mr. Bankman-Fried — which have very little do with his role recovering assets for FTX creditors and seem more directed towards publicly vilifying Mr. Bankman-Fried. [This] has left Mr. Bankman-Fried with little choice but to respond,” the lawyers added.
The law firm argued that the U.S. government was applying a double standard by touting several articles that sought to harm SBF’s reputation. This formed the basis of their request for the same gag order for SBF.