FTX co-founder and former billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried
pleaded not guilty Tuesday to US criminal charges over the spectacular collapse
of his crypto exchange. Bankman-Fried, who is out on bail, filed the plea in
federal court in Manhattan before New York judge Lewis Kaplan.
The 30-year-old sat silently between his lawyers Mark Cohen
and Christian Everdell. “He pleads not guilty to all counts,” Cohen
said. His mother and security guard sat two rows behind him in the public
gallery. The judge fixed an October 2 trial date.
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FTX’s subsidiary and trading firm Alameda Research went
bankrupt in November 2022, dissolving a virtual trading business that at one
point had been valued by the market at $32 billion.
Bankman-Fried is facing eight criminal charges against him
over what the US government has called an epic fraud that led to the loss of $8
billion in FTX customer funds. Prosecutors said the former billionaire had
transferred money to Alameda Research, a crypto hedge fund he controlled, and
modified software code that would allow Alameda to have a negative balance and
borrow unlimited funds on the FTX exchange.
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The charges against Bankman-Fried, including wire fraud and
conspiracy to commit money laundering, carry penalties that could lead to life
When a media report in November last year said Alameda’s
balance sheet was heavily built on a token created by FTX with no independent
value. It exposed Bankman-Fried’s firms as being dangerously interlinked.
On December 12, he was arrested from his apartment in the
Bahamas at the request of federal prosecutors in New York. He spent nine days
in custody in the Bahamas before being extradited to the United States, where
he appeared in court.
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Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million bail package
that requires him to live at his parent’s house in California. He is also
subject to electronic monitoring.
Prosecutors have already secured the guilty pleas of two
important figures in the case. Last month, Alameda Research CEO Caroline
Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang admitted charges linked to the FTX
collapse and are cooperating with authorities.
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The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has
separately accused Bankman-Fried of violating security laws. The SEC and the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have filed civil cases against
Ellison and Wang.