Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to various counts arising from his cryptocurrency empire’s demise.
The 30-year-old former millionaire sparked outrage as it was revealed that he commingled money between exchange platform FTX and sibling trading business Alameda Research, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars as consumers hurried to withdraw their accounts. On Tuesday, Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to CNBC, reporters and journalists rushed a black SUV taking Bankman-Fried to a Manhattan courthouse; Barbara Fried, the disgraced entrepreneur’s mother and a big Democratic fundraiser, collapsed to the wet sidewalk amid the bustle.
Bankman-Fried was recently let out of jail on a $250 million bond and allowed to return to his parents’ house in northern California near Stanford University. Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX, have already pleaded guilty. According to reports, Ellison, a past romantic interest of Bankman- Fried’s, may have collaborated with authorities.
Journalist Matthew Russell Lee said that after the arraignment, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan provisionally set a trial date for October. Due to the attention drawn to the case, which has dominated headlines for over two months, Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer who previously defended Ghislaine Maxwell, requested that Kaplan allow the sealing of the addresses and names of the two individuals who managed to secure the $250 million bond. Kaplan agreed to the motion.
Bankman-Fried has no shortage of supporters: according to Open Secrets statistics, the former executive was the seventh-biggest overall donor in the last midterm elections and the second-biggest donation to the campaign that put President Joe Biden in the White House. He said in a recent interview that he gave Republicans “roughly the same amount” in dark money.
Among those who benefited from Bankman-Fried’s contributions were incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Patty Murray (D-WA) (D-WA).
Bankman-Fried, who is facing 115 years in prison if found guilty on all counts, was allowed White House audiences with key administration officials in the months leading up to his arrest. Gabriel Bankman-Fried, his younger brother and the leader of the organization Guarding Against Pandemics, attended one of the sessions and was assigned his own rendezvous.
Last month, officials in the Bahamas, where his firms were based, seized the entrepreneur and deported him to the United States.
The Bahamas Securities Commission stated in a statement that the agency “directed the transfer of all digital assets” maintained by the company, totaling $3.5 billion in cryptocurrency, to government-controlled digital wallets “for protection” after fears of potential hacks circulated. The transfer took place on November 12, the same day that FTX declared bankruptcy in the United States. The assets are kept by the agency “temporarily” until the Bahamian Supreme Court decides how to treat them.