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Sam Bankman-Fried: FTX founder and ‘crypto king’ has bail revoked for alleged witness tampering

Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has had his $250m (£197m) bail revoked and has been sent to jail after alleged witness tampering.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan made the decision after prosecutors said Bankman-Fried had tried to harass a key witness in his fraud case last month.

The 31-year-old was charged with defrauding investors in the US after he allegedly stole billions of dollars – spending tens of millions on political donations. He has pleaded not guilty.

Read more: The rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried

Mr Kaplan said he had concluded there was probable cause to believe Bankman-Fried had tried to “tamper with witnesses at least twice” since he was arrested in December.

Bankman-Fried was led out of the hearing in a federal court in Manhattan in handcuffs by members of the US Marshals Service after removing his shoelaces, jacket and tie and emptying his pockets.

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What went wrong for FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried?

The former billionaire and so-called ‘crypto king” has been under house arrest at his parents’ home in California, since he was extradited from the Bahamas.

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The $250m bail package severely restricted his internet and phone usage, but two weeks ago prosecutors demanded he be sent to jail, alleging he violated those rules by giving The New York Times the private writings of a key witness, Caroline Ellison, his ex-girlfriend and former CEO of Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading hedge fund that was one of his businesses.

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Prosecutors argued he was trying to sully her reputation and influence prospective jurors who may be summoned for his trial in October.

In December Ellison pleaded guilty to criminal charges, which carry a potential penalty of 110 years in prison – she has agreed to testify against Bankman-Fried as part of a deal that could lead to a more lenient sentence.

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December: Bankman-Fried leaves court on $250m bail

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argued he should not be jailed for trying to protect his reputation against a barrage of unfavourable news stories and said he had a right to speak to the press.

They said prosecutors were trying to get him locked up by offering evidence consisting of “innuendo, speculation, and scant facts.”

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Since prosecutors made their detention request the judge, Mr Kaplan imposed a gag order barring public comments by people participating in the trial, including Bankman-Fried.

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