Prosecutors seek restrictions on former FTX CEO’s electronic devices following use of VPN for soccer streaming

Prosecutors in the financial fraud case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) are trying to persuade the judge to restrict his use of electronic devices. It was revealed that SBF used a virtual private network (VPN) to watch the Super Bowl through a foreign subscription service he purchased before his arrest.

Prosecutors, however, are skeptical, arguing that VPNs are commonly used to access international crypto-currency exchanges that are blocked in the United States.

Prosecutors are concerned about the former FTX CEO’s use of VPNs, SBF’s lawyers argue that the VPN use was harmless.

Judge Lewis Kaplan considers whether disgraced FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) should be allowed to use electronic and Internet devices. “There is a solution, but no one has proposed it yet“, Lewis Kaplan told the court. The judge is considering changing SBF’s bail conditions because prosecutors have complained about his use of a VPN. Damian Williams, a Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor, said the government learned that SBF used a VPN to access the web on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12, 2023.

Williams noted that VPNs have legitimate purposes, but the complaint also states that VPNs are commonly used to access international cryptographic exchanges. “Some people use VPNs to hide the fact that they are accessing international cryptocurrency exchanges that use IPs to block U.S. users“, the government’s complaint points out. However, SBF attorney Mark Cohen, who represented Ghislaine Maxwell in her sex trafficking trial, said SBF was using the VPN to watch soccer.

Our customer used the VPN to access an international NFL Game Pass subscription he had previously purchased while residing in the Bahamas, so he could watch NFL playoff games“, said SBF’s lawyers, Christian Everdell and Mark Cohen explained to the judge. “On January 29, 2023, he watched AFC and NFC championship games and on February 12, he watched the Super Bowl. This use of a VPN does not implicate any of the concerns raised by the government in its letter.

Prosecutors previously complained that SBF was attempting to communicate with former Alameda Research and FTX staff members. The court barred SBF from using end-to-end encrypted messaging services like Signal. Everdell and Cohen said SBF will not use a VPN during this period until the defense team is prepared to adopt a reasonable bail condition that addresses any concerns the government or the court may have about using a VPN.

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