Nine prominent news outlets Thursday asked a US federal judge to publicise the names of two suretors of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bond.
The Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNBC, Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones, the Financial Times, Insider and the Washington Post filed a joint motion. The New York Times and CoinDesk asked for the names separately.
Bankman-Fried relied on Ghislaine Maxwell’s precedent to hide the names of his bail suretors. The news outlets argued that a public association with Bankman-Fried is not as damaging as public association with Jeffrey Epstein would have been for Maxwell. The outlets also asserted that the public’s interest cannot be overstated, as Bankman-Fried allegedly committed one of the greatest financial frauds in history and caused immense turmoil to markets. His actions cast doubts cast over the democratic process and governmental institutions, given the former FTX CEO’s close relationships with—and possible donations to—billionaires, finance moguls, investors and elected representatives. The outlets argue that the public’s right to know the names of the guarantors thus override the suretors’ privacy and safety rights.
The outlets stated that the public has a right of access to the bail sureties grounded in both the First Amendment and the common law. Citing Press-Enterprise Co. v. Supreme Court of California, the outlets contended that it is already established by the Supreme Court that the First Amendment provides a “presumption of openness” to judicial proceedings and documents that “may be overcome only by an overriding interest based on findings that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.” Since the same was not fulfilled in this case, they requested that the names of the suretors be unsealed.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell requested on January 3 that Judge Lewis Kaplan redact the names of Bankman-Fried’s bail suretors. They stated that his parents became the target of intense media scrutiny and harrassment, and they did not want the suretors to face similar treatment. The motion was challenged by the Inner City Press, which maintained that the public had the right to know who the non-parental bail suretors were, especially given that funds were missing, and “elected officials and campaigns received campaign contributions.”
Kaplan asked any parties interested in the identity issue to file papers by January 19. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against him and now awaits trial.