FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried set to plead not guilty to fraud charges, report says
Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of bank cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is set to appear in court Tuesday and is expected to plead not guilty to charges of defrauding customers and investors, according to a report from Reuters.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has charged Bankman-Fried with eight counts of fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes. Bankman-Fried, who stepped down as FTX's CEO in November, also violated political contribution laws by donating to candidates and committees in New York under another person's name, authorities said.
The 30-year-old's arraignment in federal court in Manhattan will mark the second time he has stood before a judge since FTX, until recently the world's second-biggest platform for buying and selling digital currency, filed for bankruptcy in November. He posted a $250 million bond last month and has since been under house arrest at his parents' home in California awaiting trial. Bankman-Fried's parents used their home's equity as collateral for the bond.
Prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried purposely duped customers by using their crypto assets to pay for debts and expenses incurred by FTX's hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Crypto wallets owned by Alameda began transferring funds off the platform a few days after Bankman-Fried posted bail, according to Coin Telegraph. That prompted speculation on social media that he may have been behind the withdrawals, an allegation Bankman-Fried denied on Twitter.
"None of these are me," he tweeted on Friday. "I'm not and couldn't be moving any of those funds. I don't have access to them anymore."
Bankman-Fried also said he wasn't sure who made the withdrawals.
"I believe it is likely the case that various legit legs of FTX have the ability to access these funds," he tweeted. "Hopefully that's what's happening here. If not, hopefully one steps in soon to do so."
Bankman-Fried's lawyer, Mark Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Legal experts expect a prolonged court battle in Bankman-Fried's case, during which prosecutors will have to prove he intentionally swindled FTX customers out of their crypto assets. Gary Wang, who co-founded the company, and Carolyn Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda, have already pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
Ellison and Wang are expected to serve as government witnesses during Bankman-Fried's trial, prosecutors said last month.
FTX customers filed a lawsuit last week against the company in hopes of getting priority status once the bankruptcy proceedings end and remaining assets are divvied up.
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