People who posted bail for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried should be named, US judge rules

FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried was released from US federal custody in December after putting up a US$250 million bail package. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK – A United States judge on Monday said the names of two people who helped guarantee bail for indicted FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried should be made public, but put his ruling on hold pending an expected appeal.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favour of several media outlets, including Reuters, that sought the names.

The judge said that while the public had only a “weak” right to know who Bankman-Fried’s guarantors were, it outweighed Bankman-Fried’s arguments for confidentiality, including that the guarantors’ safety could be imperilled.

Judge Kaplan also said the names would remain under seal until at least Feb 7, because “the question presented here is novel and an appeal is likely”.

Bankman-Fried, 30, has been confined at his parents’ home in California after pleading not guilty to fraud for allegedly looting billions of FTX customer dollars. His parents, both professors at Stanford Law School, had co-signed a US$250 million (S$328.5 million) bond for their son, with two other guarantors required to sign US$500,000 and US$200,000 bonds.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said the parents had been harassed and received physical threats since FTX’s November collapse and bankruptcy, and there was “serious cause for concern” that the additional guarantors might suffer similar treatment.

Judge Kaplan disagreed, noting that long before the bail was posted, the parents had faced “intense public scrutiny” over their relationship with their son, who was once worth an estimated US$26 billion.

“The amounts of the individual bonds – US$500,000 and US$200,000 – do not suggest that the non-parental sureties are persons of great wealth or likely to attract attention of the types and volume of that to which the defendant’s parents appear to have been subjected,” he wrote.

Media outlets distinguished the case from a judge’s decision not to reveal who guaranteed a bond for Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time associate Ghislaine Maxwell. They said there was less “stigma” from being associated with Bankman-Fried than from being associated with the late sex offender. Maxwell was later convicted. REUTERS

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