FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he defrauded investors in his crypto exchange out of $1.8billion.
Bankman-Fried’s arraignment was held in Manhattan federal court before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan at 2pm on Tuesday, where he pleaded not guilty to all eight counts of fraud and conspiracy.
‘He pleads not guilty to all counts,’ Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark S. Cohen, told the court in announcing his client’s plea.
Kaplan set October 2 as the tentative trial start date, and granted a defense motion to withhold the names of two co-signers on Bankman-Fried’s $250million bond from the public.
Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried scammed investors and illegally siphoned FTX customer deposits to prop up his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy lavish real estate in the Bahamas and splash out millions in political donations.
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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves court after pleading not guilty to criminal charges that he defrauded investors in his crypto exchange out of $1.8billion
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrived at Manhattan federal court on Tuesday to answer criminal charges that he defrauded investors out of $1.8billion
Bankman-Fried, whose crypto exchange FTX collapsed in bankruptcy in November, has publicly denied knowingly committing fraud, instead blaming sloppy accounting and poor oversight.
With his trademark wild hair flopping in the breeze as he arrived at court Tuesday, the disgraced crypto wunderkind, 30, was dressed simply in a navy suit, white shirt, and blue polka-dot tie.
Bankman-Fried also toted a backpack as he entered court flanked by his attorney as well as burly members of an apparent private security detail.
Shortly before the arraignment, US Attorney Damian Williams announced a new task force made up of senior federal prosecutors to investigate and prosecute matters related to the FTX collapse.
He said the task force also will work to trace and recover victim assets, believed to total in the billions.
‘The Southern District of New York is working around the clock to respond to the implosion of FTX,’ Williams said in a statement.
‘It is an all-hands-on-deck moment. 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,’ he added.
Sam Bankman-Fried (center) arrives at Manhattan Federal Court in Manhattan with his attorney Mark S. Cohen (right) and a bodyguard
Bankman-Fried is seen with his lawyer Mark S. Cohen (right) and security guards as he arrives at federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday
Barbara Fried, the mother of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, arrives at Manhattan Federal Court ahead of his arraignment
Prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried scammed investors and illegally used FTX customer deposits to prop up his hedge fund
Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, walks in ahead of a hearing at Manhattan federal court
Bankman-Fried will appear for arraignment before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in a hearing at 2pm on Tuesday, where he is expected to plead not guilty
Earlier in the day, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said his parents have ‘received a steady stream of threatening correspondence’ and asked the court to redact the names of two additional co-signers on his $250 million bond.
Following his arrest and extradition last month, Bankman-Fried, 30, has been free on bond and living under electronic monitoring at the Palo Alto, California, home of his parents, both Stanford University law professors.
In their latest court filing on Tuesday morning, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys asked Judge Kaplan to seal the names of two co-signers on his $250million personal recognizance bond.
The bail conditions imposed by the court required the accused scammer’s parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, to co-sign his bond, but also required two additional sureties sign separate bonds in lesser amounts.
Now, Bankman-Fried’s attorney Mark S. Cohen says in the filing that the parents have become the target of threats and harassment, and requests that the additional co-signers be allowed to remain anonymous.
‘Among other things, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents have received a steady stream of threatening correspondence, including communications expressing a desire that they suffer physical harm,’ Cohen wrote.
The attorney added that there ‘is serious cause for concern that the two additional sureties would face similar intrusions on their privacy as well as threats and harassment’ if their identities are revealed.
Former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried arrives to enter a plea before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in the Manhattan federal court on Tuesday
Bankman-Fried, flanked by apparent private security guards, enters court on Tuesday
Former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried is seen with his mother, Barbara Fried (right) as he arrives to enter a plea before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan
Cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, second from right, arrives for an appearance at Manhattan federal court Tuesday
Bankman-Fried, whose crypto exchange FTX collapsed in bankruptcy in November, has publicly denied knowingly committing fraud, instead blaming sloppy accounting
US Attorney Damian Williams announced a new task force made up of senior prosecutors in his office to investigate and prosecute matters related to the FTX collapse
The motion requested that Kaplan ‘issue an order directing that the names and identifying information of the two remaining sureties be redacted on their bonds and not be publicly disclosed by the Government.’
Prosecutors did not object to the defense motion, which the judge granted at the arraignment hearing.
Bankman-Fried is charged with two counts of wire fraud and six conspiracy counts, including to launder money and commit campaign finance violations.
He could face up to 115 years in prison if convicted.
Last month, two of Bankman-Fried’s top lieutenants pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, in a potentially significant blow to his defense.
Carolyn Ellison, 28, who ran Alameda, and Gary Wang, 29, who co-founded FTX, pleaded guilty to charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.
Both are free on bail and cooperating with prosecutors in a bid for leniency ahead of sentencing.
Following the arraignment, Bankman-Fried quickly removed his tie as he left court
Bankman-Fried, 30, has been free on bond and living under electronic monitoring at the Palo Alto, California, home of his parents, both Stanford University law professors
Carolyn Ellison, 28, who ran Alameda, and Gary Wang, 29, who co-founded FTX, previously pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a bid for leniency
Their pleas were kept secret until Bankman-Fried was in the air after his extradition from the Bahamas, where FTX is based, due to fears that he might flee.
Ellison and Wang both face decades in prison at their sentencings.
FTX, once valued as high as $32billion, filed for bankruptcy protection on November 11 after alleged misappropriation of client funds left a multi-billion hole in the crypto exchange’s books.
The collapse of FTX, which had been the second-largest crypto exchange in the world, left creditors seeking to recoup billions in claimed losses.
Prior to his December 12 arrest in the Bahamas, SBF acknowledged risk-management failures at FTX, but maintained he does not believe he is criminally liable.
Bankman-Fried, Ellison and Wang were also sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Ellison and Wang settled those civil cases.
FTX’s new chief executive, John J. Ray III, known for his work liquidating energy company Enron Corp in bankruptcy, has said FTX was run by ‘grossly inexperienced’ and unsophisticated people.