Sam Bankman-Fried loses bid for pretrial jail release

FILE PHOTO: Former FTX Chief Executive Bankman-Fried at a courthouse in New York

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Sam Bankman-Fried on Tuesday lost a bid to be released from jail so he can better prepare for his Oct. 3 trial on fraud charges stemming from the collapse of his FTX cryptocurrency exchange, a court filing showed.

Bankman-Fried has said the conditions of his confinement at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center have made it impossible for him to adequately review prosecutors' evidence against him and help his lawyers build his defense case.

But U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said in a written ruling that Bankman-Fried had not specified which pieces of evidence he had been unable to access. He also said Bankman-Fried had not asked for a trial delay, despite Kaplan's offer to consider such a request.

Kaplan said he would consider a later, more detailed application for release.

Kaplan jailed the 31-year-old former billionaire on Aug. 11 after finding that he likely tampered with witnesses at least twice, including by sharing the personal writings of Bankman-Fried's former romantic partner and colleague Caroline Ellison with a New York Times reporter.

Ellison, the former chief executive of Bankman-Fried's Alameda Research hedge fund, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges over the November 2022 collapse of FTX and Alameda and is expected to testify against him at trial.

Bankman-Fried has said he shared the documents to protect his reputation, not to intimidate Ellison. He has separately appealed Kaplan's detention order. A three-judge panel from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear arguments in that case on Sept. 19.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to plug losses at Alameda, buy real estate, and donate to U.S. political campaigns in a bid to burnish his influence in Washington.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty. He has acknowledged inadequate risk management at FTX, but denied stealing funds.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis)