The media’s lawyers argued the public’s right to know Bankman-Fried’s sureties outweighed their privacy and safety rights, but Bankman-Fried’s lawyers strongly disagreed.
Eight major media companies — including Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Reuters — have demanded public disclosure of the two individuals responsible for guaranteeing FTX former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bond.
In a Jan. 12 letter addressed to New York District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP — acting on behalf of the media giants — argued that “the public’s right to know Bankman-Fried’s guarantors outweighed their privacy and safety rights.”
“The public […] has an interest in knowing who it is that provided Mr. Bankman-Fried with financial backing.”
“[Particularly] given Mr. Bankman-Fried’s close relationships with leaders of the financial industry, investors, prominent Silicon Valley billionaires, and elected representatives,” they argued.
The other media organizations looking to persuade the judge to unseal the identities of Bankman-Fried’s guarantors are the Associated Press, CNBC, Dow Jones, Insider and the Washington Post.
The attorneys also argued that given Bankman-Fried’s close ties to “some of the most wealthy, powerful, and politically connected individuals” on the planet, such non-disclosure could possibly undermine “public confidence in our government institutions and political leaders.”
The media lawyers also argued that while a 2020 case involving Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell saw her bond guarantors sealed, Bankman-Fried’s alleged financial crimes are not nearly as serious as what Maxwell was accused of:
“While Mr. Bankman-Fried is accused of serious financial crimes, a public association with him does not carry nearly the same stigma as with the Jeffrey Epstein child sex trafficking scandal.”
The letter came in response to the court’s decision on Jan. 3 to approve Bankman-Fried’s request to redact the names and identifying information of his two non-parental bail sureties.
According to a Jan. 12 report from Reuters, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers previously argued that Bankman-Fried’s sureties should be kept under wraps as Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried — the parents and co-signers of Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bond — have received ongoing physical threats since FTX’s catastrophic collapse in early November.
If the guarantor’s names were revealed, there would be a “serious cause for concern” for the safety and welfare of those two people, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argued.
The names of Bankman-Fried’s guarantors aren’t the only names mainstream media have asked to be disclosed publicly.
Several media outlets also called on Delaware-based Judge John Dorsey overlooking FTX‘s bankruptcy case to disclose the names of up to nine million customers entangled in the court proceedings.
However, bankruptcy judge John Dorsey has ruled on Jan. 11 to keep creditor information private for the time being.
Update Jan. 13, 3:45 am UTC: Added additional quotes in from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s letter addressed to Judge Lewis Kaplan.