Bankman-Fried could have flip phone, limited internet while on bail, US suggests

Written by Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sam Bankman-Fried should be allowed to have a flip phone without internet and a basic laptop with limited functionality while on bail, but not be allowed to use other electronic devices, the U.S. Justice Department said.

A motion to limit communications for the indicted founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange was filed late Friday in federal court in Manhattan, on behalf of the government and Bankman-Fried’s defense team.

It requires the approval of US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case.

Kaplan signed in court on Feb. 16 that the 30-year-old Bankman-Fried could be jailed for testing the limit of her $250 million bail package for speaking in non-cognizable ways.

The judge said he did not want to release Bankman-Fried into the “garden of electronic devices,” following allegations that Bankman-Fried tried to contact government witnesses who may have used a private network to watch football.

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty after prosecutors said he stole billions of dollars in FTX clients’ money to cover losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund. He faces 12 felony counts under an indictment that was unsealed on February 23.

Bankman-Fried’s proposed flip phone or other non-smartphone would be limited to voice calls and SMS text messages.

The laptop’s Internet use will be limited to private private networks, 23 websites for personal use that cover news, including Reuters, sports and food delivery, and websites that could help Bankman-Fried prepare for her scheduled Oct. 2 trial.

Bankman-Fried is under house arrest with her parents, both professors at Stanford Law School, in Palo Alto, California.

The parents agree to submit affidavits that they will not bring any other electronics into their home or allow their son to use theirs.

They also agreed that each device would run software that periodically captures videos or photos of users, which court officials would be allowed to review, the letter said.

Attorneys for Bankman-Fried did not immediately respond Saturday to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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