Sam Bankman-Fried’s use of a VPN on Super Bowl Sunday ‘raised concerns’, say prosecutors

Prosecutors in a criminal case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried have requested additional time to review the legal implications of his use of a virtual private network, or VPN.

In a Feb. 13 filing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the Justice Department found that Bankman-Freed accessed the Internet on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12. Super Bowl LVII. The government believes VPN use “raises several potential concerns,” Williams said, citing examples of U.S. users accessing certain international crypto exchanges and hiding data from websites that Bankman-Freed may visit.

“VPN allows you to transfer data without detection through a secure encrypted connection. [and] is a more secure and hidden way to access the dark web,” the filing says. “The defense contends that the defendant did not use the VPN for any improper purpose and indicated that it would like to be able to discuss the matter with the government.”

According to Mark Cohen of the law firm Cohen & Gresser, which is representing the SBF in the criminal case, the former FTX CEO used the VPN to watch sports, including the Super Bowl. He added that until the issue is resolved among lawyers, Bankman-Fried will not use a VPN.

“On January 29, 2023, he watched the AFC and NFC championship games, and on February 12, the Super Bowl. This VPN use is not related to any of the concerns expressed by the government in its letter.”

The court document suggests that Bankman-Fried’s legal team discussed whether the former FTX CEO’s VPN use could be included as a condition of his bail. Since the SBF arrest, prosecutors have already asked the court to restrict Bankman-Fried’s use of certain messaging apps and refrain from contacting current or former employees of FTX and Alameda Research. Both Bankman-Fried’s lawyers and U.S. Attorneys have requested until Feb. 17 to discuss the impact of the SBF’s use of the VPN on his bail conditions.

Sam Bankman-Fried tries to access FTX funds

Bankman-Freed’s criminal trial is due to begin in October, when he faces eight charges related to wire fraud and violations of campaign finance laws. The judge ruled Feb. 13 that the civil cases the SBF is facing from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will pending the completion of the criminal case.

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