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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried living on bread and water in prison, says lawyer

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court (AP)
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court (AP)

Fallen crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has complained to lawyers that he can’t concentrate on organising his defence on a prison diet of bread, water and sometimes peanut butter.

The FTX founder, who is fighting multiple charges of conspiracy and wire fraud, complained through lawyers he is still regularly served a “flesh diet” in prison despite being a vegan.

Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas to the US in December after prosecutors said he stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits, spending tens of millions on his businesses, speculative venture investments, charitable donations and on illegal campaign contributions aimed at influencing cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.

The 31-year-old Californian was, on Tuesday, making his first court appearance since his $250 million bail limiting him to his parent’s house was revoked 10 days ago.

Attorney Mark Cohen argued that Bankman-Fried hadn’t received medication that’s necessary for him to focus since he was sent to jail on August 12 (REUTERS)
Attorney Mark Cohen argued that Bankman-Fried hadn’t received medication that’s necessary for him to focus since he was sent to jail on August 12 (REUTERS)

He shuffled into the courtroom with his legs shackled after a judge found he had repeatedly tried to influence witnesses against him whilst on bail at his Pato Alto family home.

Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn, presiding over Tuesday’s hearing, told Bankman-Fried’s attorneys that she would not overrule rulings about access to computers, but that she would see if she could get the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to provide medications and a diet more closely aligned to the defendant’s vegan preferences.

Attorney Mark Cohen told that Bathe magistrate Bankman-Fried hadn’t received medication that was necessary for him to focus since he was sent to jail on August 12.

He said his client continued to be served a “flesh diet,” leaving him to rely solely on bread, water and sometimes peanut butter.

“Your Honour, that’s outrageous and needs to be remedied”.

Another defence attorney, Christian Everdell, told Netburn that Bankman-Fried was being denied the right to adequately prepare for trial because he was only allowed to review millions of pages of evidence two days a week.

“There is no way for him to effectively prepare for his defence,” Everdell said.

Before his bail was revoked, Bankman-Fried had been permitted to live with his parents under strict rules limiting his access to electronic devices.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered him jailed after concluding that there was probable cause to believe he had committed the federal crime of attempted witness tampering.

He cited an attempt by Bankman-Fried to communicate with the FTX general counsel in January and his disclosure several week ago to a journalist of some private writings by Caroline Ellison, his former girlfriend and the ex-CEO of Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading hedge fund that was one of his businesses.

The judge said the writings were kinds of things that a former romantic partner was unlikely to share with anyone “except to hurt, discredit, and frighten the subject of the material”.