FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads not Guilty to Bribery Charges – Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX cryptocurrency exchange, has pleaded not guilty to additional criminal charges brought against him in the US. These new charges include accusations of conspiring to break campaign finance laws and bribe Chinese officials.
Bankman-Fried, who is 31 years old, had already pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud and conspiracy relating to allegations that he misappropriated billions of dollars from FTX customers to cover losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research. These fresh charges increase the pressure on him, with the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence if he is found guilty at his trial, which is scheduled to begin on 2 October.
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At a hearing in Manhattan federal court before US district judge Lewis Kaplan, Sam Bankman-Fried, pled not guilty to the 13-count indictment, with his lawyer Mark Cohen entering the plea on his behalf. Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, stated that he intends to challenge the new charges leveled against his client, as they were brought after Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas, where he was arrested in December and where FTX was headquartered.
Bankman-Fried’s arrest followed a series of customer withdrawals that were sparked by concerns about funds being mixed between the exchange and Alameda, leading to the bankruptcy of FTX. The initial indictment by the US attorney’s office was sparse on details about the alleged fraud scheme. In an unusual move, Bankman-Fried acknowledged in a blog post after his arrest that there were deficiencies in risk management at FTX, but he denied stealing funds.
In late February, prosecutors filed a new 12-count indictment with more details on the fraud charges, and they accused Bankman-Fried of illegally donating tens of millions of dollars to US political campaigns through straw donors in an attempt to gain influence in Washington. Recently, prosecutors also sought to unseal yet another indictment that accuses Bankman-Fried of conspiring to violate anti-bribery laws by arranging a $40 million payment to Chinese authorities to unfreeze $1 billion in cryptocurrency held in Alameda accounts.
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Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda, Zixao “Gary” Wang, the former CTO of FTX technology, and Nishad Singh, the former engineering director at FTX, who were all previously part of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, have pled guilty and agreed to assist prosecutors. Bankman-Fried is currently under house arrest at his parents’ residence in Palo Alto, California, on a $250 million bond pending his trial. Recently, modifications to his bail conditions were approved by US district judge Lewis Kaplan to prevent Bankman-Fried from interfering with potential witnesses.