FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to criminal charges

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to criminal charges

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FTX Trading Ltd founder Sam Bankman-Fried today pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges brought against him by federal prosecutors in New York.

Bankman-Fried is accused of committing fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. If convicted, he could reportedly face up to 115 years in prison. Two Bankman-Fried associates, FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda Research co-Chief Executive Officer Caroline Ellison, last month pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan bought a criminal indictment against Bankman-Fried following the November collapse of FTX. That month, FTX filed for bankruptcy along with its U.S. affiliate, dozens of subsidiaries and cryptocurrency trading firm Alameda Research. Soon after the bankruptcy, it emerged that FTX had a more than $7 billion shortfall in its balance sheet.

The saga began when leaked documents from Alameda Research revealed discrepancies in the company’s finances. Following the leak, the value of a cryptocurrency issued by FTX cratered and reports emerged that multiple federal agencies had begun investigating the exchange. FTX and Alameda Research submitted their bankruptcy filings shortly thereafter.

Federal prosecutors charge that Bankman-Fried misappropriated billions of dollars worth of FTX customer funds before the exchange’s collapse. Bankman-Fried is accused of using the funds to purchase properties, fund political donations and repay billions of dollars in loans owed by Alameda Research.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas on Dec. 15 after U.S. prosecutors notified local officials about the criminal charges brought against him. The FTX founder was extradited to the U.S. on Dec. 21. Following a hearing held the next day, he was released on a $250 million bail.

Bankman-Fried made his not guilty plea this afternoon at a federal court in Manhattan. The next hearing in the case is reportedly scheduled for May 17 and a trial will take place on Oct. 2. It’s believed that the trial could last for four weeks. 

In addition to the criminal charges, Bankman-Fried faces civil complaints from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulator responsible for overseeing the derivatives market. The SEC charged Bankman-Fried with defrauding investors, while the CFTC is suing the FTX founder for violations of federal commodities laws.

Today, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manthan created a task force to recover assets of individuals and institutions affected by FTX’s collapse. The task force will also manage prosecutions related to the cryptocurrency exchange and its affiliates. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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