Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the FTX crypto exchange, was represented by attorneys who agreed to have an impartial technical expert advise the court on his bail requirements.
“The defense agrees to the appointment of such an expert at the defense’s expense, and the Government has no objection,” reads a court filing submitted Tuesday.
The filing states that Bankman-Fried’s lawyer “has already started looking into and contacting relevant experts” and anticipates being able to recommend one or more candidates by the end of the week.
Technological specialists can assist the court in navigating the complexity of contemporary encryption technology, such as encrypted texting and messaging applications with privacy-focused features.
The decision was made after judge Lewis A. Kaplan suggested that the FTX founder would be fully cut off from electronics due to U.S. prosecutors’ worries about using a VPN to access the internet while out on bail.
Judge Kaplan has suggested that there could be gadgets in Bankman-Fried’s family Palo Alto home that the government cannot follow, which would change the current $250 million bond deal if such a determination were reached.
“Why am I being asked to set him loose in this garden of electronic devices?” Judge Kaplan asked prosecutors last week.
By sending encrypted texts to former FTX and staff, prosecutors said Bankman-Fried may have engaged in “witness tampering” last month.
This caused the court to prohibit SBF’s use of encrypted messaging services like Signal, which has an auto-delete feature, but to permit him to continue using WhatsApp with monitoring software installed.
Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, claimed earlier in February that SBF had used the VPN to watch the Super Bowl and the NFL Playoffs using an overseas subscription it had previously bought.
For his part in the demise of FTX and its associated trading business Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried is being prosecuted and could spend up to 115 years in jail.
Bankman-Fried’s capacity to prepare for the impending trial, which is likely set for October, may be hampered if all electronic devices are prohibited from being used, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos.