Federal prosecutors accused former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried, of witness tampering, after he allegedly leaked to the New York Times the personal writings and correspondence of his ex-girlfriend and business partner Caroline Ellison.
In a letter sent to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Thursday, prosecutors accused Bankman Fried of leaking the New York Times's Ellison's Writings in order to 'interfere' with a fair jury trial.
The New York Times published private entries in Ellison's Google Docs diary that she wrote. The entries reportedly described her 'unhappy' and 'overwhelmed' emotional state while she was CEO of Alameda Research - FTX’s crypto hedge fund. In the writings, she also expressed doubts regarding her ability to run the business and make effective decisions.
Ellison pleaded guilty in December to multiple counts for fraud and conspiracy in connection with her involvement in a scheme which led to the demise of FTX. Prosecutors expect her to be a key witness in the criminal case they are pursuing against Bankman Fried, who has denied eight federal charges of fraud and conspiracies.
In the letter, the prosecutors claimed that they were aware of an article that was coming earlier that week and that Bankman Fried's lawyers confirmed that he had sat with the newspaper to discuss documents that weren't part of the discovery material.
By selectively sharing private documents with The New York Times, defendant attempts to discredit a key witness, portray Ellison in a bad light, and advance the defense of Bankman-Fried through the media and outside of the confines of the courtroom, rules of evidence, and the limitations of the law. He claims that Ellison is a jilted love who committed these crimes alone.' US Attorney Damian Williams, writing on behalf of prosecutors, brought the case against Bankman Fried.
He said: "While the Government expects that the overwhelming evidence will give lie to this defence, it is improper and prejudicial for the defendant, to malign Ellison’s credibility before trial, especially with materials which the defense hasn't established are admissible in trial, let alone produced to the Government."
Bankman-Fried is being restricted from making public statements by prosecutors, out of concern that he might influence the jury pool or chill witnesses.
Williams wrote: 'The defendant's conduct, in addition to tainting a jury pool, has the effect, if it is not the intention, not only to harass Ellison but also to discourage other potential trial witness from testifying.
A representative of Bankman-Fried refused to comment. A New York Times spokesperson and an attorney representing Ellison didn't immediately respond to comments.