FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty in court

New York, New York - FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty in the multibillion-dollar fraud case against him in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

Former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, departs from his court hearing in Manhattan on January 3, 2023.
Former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, departs from his court hearing in Manhattan on January 3, 2023.  © REUTERS

The 30-year-old entered a plea of not guilty to two counts of wire fraud and six counts of conspiracy, including conspiring to launder money and violating campaign finance laws.

Bankman-Fried is accused of steering billions of dollars that flowed through his cryptocurrency exchange platform, FTX, where users could trade currencies, to his crypto trading firm, Alameda Research.

The firm, valued at more than $30 billion at its peak, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 11.

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Bankman-Fried’s plea comes after his top lieutenants – including his ex-girlfriend – pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to cooperate against him.

Carolyn Ellison (28) was Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend and CEO of Alameda Research. The other executive who flipped, Gary Wang (29), was the co-founder of FTX.

Both have admitted to bank fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud.

Federal prosecutors launch task force to investigate fraud allegations

As Bankman-Fried entered his plea, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced a new unit dedicated exclusively to uncovering wrongdoing in what they described as one of the largest frauds in American history.

"The Southern District of New York is working around the clock to respond to the implosion of FTX. It is an all-hands-on-deck moment," said US Attorney Damian Williams.

"We are launching the SDNY FTX Task Force to ensure that this urgent work continues, powered by all of SDNY’s resources and expertise, until justice is done."

Bankman-Fried has been out on $250 million bond – the largest-ever pretrial bond for any defendant – since his initial December 22 appearance after federal authorities extradited him from the Bahamas, where FTX was headquartered and he was arrested.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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