NEW YORK. – Sam Bankman-Fried is struggling to prepare for his fraud trial due to a lack of adequate food in prison, the lawyer for the founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX says.
FTX was once the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange and valued at US$32bn (£25bn).
The claim came as Mr Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges contained in a new indictment.
His bail was revoked two weeks ago.
At the time the judge said: “There is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice.”
The former billionaire’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, said a lack of adequate food at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center was hampering his client’s ability to prepare for his trial, which is scheduled to start in October.
Mr Bankman-Fried was “subsisting on bread and water”, his lawyer said.
Mr Cohen also said Mr Bankman-Fried had not been provided with the attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) drug Adderall and that his supply of the medication Emsam to treat depression was running low.
Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said she would ask the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons, which runs the jail, to address the issues with Mr Bankman-Fried’s medication.
She was “reasonably confident” the facility offered vegetarian food, but was not sure whether vegan food was available, Judge Netburn added.
The Bureau of Prisons said inmates had access to “appropriate” healthcare, medicine and hot meals.
During the court hearing in New York on Tuesday he pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges contained in a new indictment.
Mr Bankman-Fried, who was formerly nicknamed “The King of Crypto”, was led into court wearing leg restraints and a beige prison uniform.
It was his first court appearance since his bail was revoked on 11 August.
Mr Bankman-Fried was jailed after sharing the personal writings of his former romantic partner and colleague, Caroline Ellison, with a journalist.
Ms Ellison, who is the former chief executive of Mr Bankman-Fried’s trading firm Alameda, has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him.
The new indictment charged Mr Bankman-Fried with seven counts of fraud and conspiracy over the collapse of FTX in November 2022.
However, it no longer charges him with conspiring to violate US campaign finance laws.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr Bankman-Fried has acknowledged that FTX had inadequate risk management but has denied stealing the funds.
It filed for bankruptcy protection on 11 November, which sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency market. – BBC.