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Bankman-Fried can wear suits at trial, rules judge

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial is due to begin on Oct 3 and could last six weeks. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: Sam Bankman-Fried, the jailed former cryptocurrency billionaire known for his casual appearance, can dress up for his forthcoming fraud trial.

US district judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday ordered US marshals and Brooklyn jail officials to provide Bankman-Fried with three suit jackets and pairs of slacks, four dress shirts, three ties, one belt, four pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes and “appropriate undergarments” to wear in the courtroom.

Bankman-Fried’s trial is due to begin on Oct 3 and could last six weeks. His lawyers had requested the clothing in a Tuesday night court filing.

Jailed inmates do not have access to their own clothing.

Judges often let them wear business attire in court, to avoid possible juror bias if they wore prison garb.

Bankman-Fried, 31, has pleaded not guilty to stealing billions of dollars in customer deposits from FTX, the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019.

As he rode a boom in bitcoin and other digital assets to an estimated US$26 billion fortune, Bankman-Fried was known for his unkempt mop of curly hair and wearing rumpled shorts, T-shirts and sneakers even when entertaining the likes of former US president Bill Clinton and ex-British prime minister Tony Blair.

Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried’s US$250 million bail on Aug 11 and remanded him to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn after finding he likely tampered with witnesses.

At most court appearances since his Dec 2022 arrest, Bankman-Fried has worn suits. He wore a beige-colored prison uniform at an August hearing following his jailing.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have asked for him to be released from jail during the trial, so he can better assist with building his defense case. Kaplan will hold a hearing on that request on Thursday.