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A judge just blocked Sam Bankman-Fried from accessing FTX and Alameda funds days after reports of transactions from crypto wallets previously associated with him

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving court
Sam Bankman-Fried, cofounder of the FTX cryptocurrency derivatives exchange, leaving New York federal court, Jan. 3, 2022.
Stephanie Keith—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Disgraced crypto founder Sam Bankman-Fried will be prohibited from accessing or transferring funds from his former crypto exchange, FTX, and its sister trading firm, Alameda Research, a judge ordered at his arraignment hearing today in Manhattan. 

The decision comes days after blockchain researchers found that someone was transferring funds from crypto wallets associated with his trading firm, Alameda Research, that had been previously been associated with the founder. 

Bankman-Fried tweeted on Dec. 30 that he was not behind the transfers, but Bloomberg reported the same day that federal prosecutors were looking into the transactions. 

At his arraignment hearing on Jan. 3, Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight counts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon asked that Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions be changed so that he could no longer access or transfer funds belonging to his former companies, specifically referencing reports of last week’s transactions. 

Sassoon acknowledged that the government did not yet have evidence that the transfers were tied to Bankman-Fried, but said the court should not “put full stock” in his denials, given that he has previously tweeted false information. 

She added that the government could no longer access the funds that had been moved and that there was concern the same could happen to further assets, adding that Bankman-Fried had previously worked with Bahamian regulators after FTX’s bankruptcy to transfer customer funds because he thought foreign regulators may be more lenient than the U.S. government. 

Bankman-Fried appeared to exchange notes with one of his lawyers, Mark Cohen, who spoke on behalf of his client to deny the allegations. Cohen said that Bankman-Fried’s legal team had been in contact with the government to help figure out the source of the transactions, but that Bankman-Fried no longer had access to the wallets. 

Cohen said that Bankman-Fried’s legal team has been in touch with prosecutors to work on language to change the bail conditions and asked Judge Lewis Kaplan for time to finalize the language. Kaplan demurred, ruling that the updated bail condition was warranted. 

Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 2. 

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