As his colleagues all rush to cut the best deal to sell Sam Bankman-Fried out, Mr. Bankman-Fried's negotiations were around getting him out of a Bahamanian prison quickly and saving the US government the costs of fighting to extradite him and caring for him in a US-based jail as he awaits trial. The size of Bankman-Fried's scheme merits a $250 million bail to set, but it seems cheaper and more expedient for the Department of Justice to put the squeeze on his parents and let Bankman-Fried protect himself from the horde of angry FTX customers.
Financial fraud gets the DoJ pissed. Far more than if you are an insurrectionist.
Mr. Bankman-Fried had another point of leverage: U.S. prosecutors had wanted to extradite him from the Bahamas quickly, to avoid both the perception of slow-moving justice and his getting hurt in a Bahamian jail before being moved to the U.S. If he had fought extradition, he would most likely have lost that fight, but it would have cost the U.S. time and money. In return, he wanted to stay out of prison before trial.
The Justice Department and Mr. Bankman-Fried's lawyers ultimately negotiated over how to extradite him in exchange for letting him stay out of prison without posting a huge bond, given his lack of funds. So while prosecutors could herald a $250 million bail, one of the highest in history, he was ultimately released on something closer to his own recognizance, which is also a standard arrangement. Prosecutors did demand that his parents post their home as collateral and co-sign the bail deal, expecting that Mr. Bankman-Fried wouldn't want to hurt his family.