Sam Bankman-Fried could face 115-year sentence in FTX case

abdelaziz Fathi

FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty in New York federal court to criminal charges related to the collapse of his now-bankrupt exchange and Alameda Research.

FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried

The disgraced cryptocurrency legend was indicted on eight counts, including wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, as well as charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to avoid campaign finance regulations. If convicted, the onetime crypto billionaire could face up to 115 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan set a trial date for October 2. SBF, who is out on a $250 million bond, appeared in Federal District Court in Manhattan and his attorney Mark Cohen entered the plea of not guilty to all counts.

Mr. Bankman-Fried, 30, previously acknowledged making mistakes but denied claims of engaging in widespread fraud, paving the way for a trial. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate could ultimately change his mind and plead guilty to at least some of the charges.

Federal prosecutor Danielle Sassoon accused SBF of running a multiyear scheme that defrauded customers and lenders on the financial condition of FTX and Alameda from 2019 through November 2022. He also violated federal campaign finance laws and misled the Federal Election Commission by funneling $70 million in illegal contributions to political candidates, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

Bankman-Fried is also accused of misappropriating $8 billion worth of customer assets to buy extravagant real estate and vanity projects in the Bahamas, trade cryptocurrencies, invest in other companies and make tens of millions of dollars in political donations.

Prosecutors have called his actions “a fraud of epic proportions” and one of the largest and most “brazen” frauds in recent memory.

Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas, where he lived and where his firms were based, to the United States on December 21. On the next day he appeared in the court and was granted bail on a $250 million recognizance bond, secured by his family home in California. However, he was released under highly restrictive conditions, including barring him from transferring or accessing FTX customer assets and to stay confined to his parents’ home in Palo Alto.

Two of Bankman-Fried’s closest allies, Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang, have pleaded guilty to criminal charges. The agreements indicate that Ellison, 28, and Wang, 29, have agreed to cooperate fully with the government after being slapped with civil and criminal charges alleging fraud and conspiracy.

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