Sam Bankman-Fried Used VPN on Super Bowl Sunday

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Prosecutors in the criminal case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried have asked for more time to investigate the legal consequences of his use of a virtual private network or VPN.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated in a Feb. 13 filing with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that the Justice Department discovered that Bankman-Fried accessed the internet on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12, the latter date being Super Bowl LVII. 

The government, according to Williams, believes that using a VPN “raises multiple potential problems,” citing examples of US-based users accessing specific overseas crypto exchanges and hiding data from websites Bankman-Fried may visit.

“A VPN allows data transfers without detection through a secure, encrypted connection [and] is a more secure and covert method of accessing the dark web,” said the filing. “The defense maintains that the defendant was not using a VPN for any improper purpose and has indicated that it would like the opportunity to engage in discussions with the Government about the issue.”

The former FTX CEO allegedly utilized the VPN to view sports programming, including the Super Bowl, according to Mark Cohen of the law firm Cohen & Gresser, defending SBF in the criminal case. Bankman-Fried would not utilize a VPN until the dispute was settled by attorneys, he stressed.

“On January 29, 2023, he watched the AFC and NFC Championship games and on February 12, he watched the Super Bowl. This use of a VPN does not implicate any of the concerns raised by the Government in its letter.”

According to the court filing, Bankman-Fried’s legal team was debating whether the former FTX CEO’s usage of a VPN may be a requirement of his release on bail. Prosecutors have previously requested that Bankman-Fried be prohibited from using specific messaging services and from contacting any current or former members of the FTX and Alameda Research staff after SBF’s detention. 

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys and US prosecutors asked for an extension until February 17 to discuss the potential effects that SBF utilizing a VPN would have on his bail terms.

In October, Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial is set to start. He will be charged with eight charges of wire fraud and breaking campaign financing regulations. On February 13, a court decided that SBF’s civil actions with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission would have to wait until the criminal case was over.

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