By Jonathan Stempel
NEWYORK – A U.S. judge on Monday said the names of two people who helped guarantee bail for indicted FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried should be made public, but put his ruling on hold pending an expected appeal.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan ruled in favor of several media outlets including Reuters that sought the names.
The judge said that while the public had only a “weak” right to know who Bankman-Fried’s guarantors were, it outweighed Bankman-Fried’s arguments for confidentiality, including that the guarantors’ safety could be imperiled.
Kaplan also said the names will remain under seal until at least Feb. 7, because “the question presented here is novel and an appeal is likely.”
A spokesman for Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, who represent Bankman-Fried, declined to comment.
Bankman-Fried, 30, has been confined at his parents’ home in California, after pleading not guilty to fraud for allegedly looting billions of FTX customer dollars.
His parents, both professors at Stanford Law School, had co-signed a $250 million bond for their son, with two other guarantors required to sign $500,000 and $200,000 bonds.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said the parents had been harassed and received physical threats since FTX‘s November collapse and bankruptcy, and there was “serious cause for concern” the additional guarantors might suffer similar treatment.
Kaplan disagreed, noting that long before bail was posted, the parents had faced “intense public scrutiny” over their relationship with their son, who was once worth an estimated $26 billion.
“The amounts of the individual bonds--$500,000 and $200,000—do not suggest that the non-parental sureties are persons of great wealth or likely to attract attention of the types and volume of that to which defendant’s parents appear to have been subjected,” Kaplan wrote.
Media outlets distinguished the case from another judge’s decision not to reveal who guaranteed a bond for Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell.
They said there was less “stigma” from being associated with Bankman-Fried than from being associated with the late sex offender. Maxwell was later convicted.
Other media seeking to identify Bankman-Fried’s guarantors included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNBC, CoinDesk, Dow Jones, the Financial Times, Insider, the New York Times and the Washington Post.