The United States Department of Justice has accused Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of failed crypto exchange FTX, of leaking the private diary of former colleague Caroline Ellison to the New York Times.
The NYT yesterday published an article examining the private writings of Ellison, who it describes as a “star witness” in the forthcoming trial of Bankman-Fried. Prior to FTX’s collapse, Ellison ran sister trading firm Alameda Research and was at times romantically involved with Bankman-Fried.
The DOJ filing, which came late yesterday, accuses Bankman-Fried of leaking Ellison’s diary to NYT reporters in an attempt to discredit her.
“The defendant’s purpose in sharing these materials is plain. Ellison has pleaded guilty to a cooperation agreement and is expected to testify at trial that she agreed with the defendant to defraud FTX’s customers and investors, and Alameda’s lenders,” the DOJ wrote. Ellison pleaded guilty to federal charges in December, a little over a month after FTX's collapse.
The DOJ continued, “By selectively sharing certain private documents with the New York Times, the defendant is attempting to discredit a witness, cast Ellison in a poor light, and advance his defense through the press and outside the constraints of the courtroom and rules of evidence: that Ellison was a jilted lover who perpetrated these crimes alone.”
DOJ asks judge to limit extrajudicial statements
In response, the DOJ has asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to enforce an order “that limits extrajudicial statements by parties and witnesses likely to interfere with a fair trial by an impartial jury.”
The DOJ pointed out that leaks aimed at discrediting witnesses, besides potentially tainting the jury pool, also have the potential to deter other witnesses from testifying.
Bankman-Fried faces over 100 years in prison if convicted on an array of charges brought against him by U.S. authorities, including fraud-related charges regarding allegations that he and other FTX executives misappropriated billions in customer assets. He is currently under house arrest, with his trial scheduled for October.
Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
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