Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty in FTX fraud case

Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty in FTX fraud case
Sam Bankman-Fried

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal court yesterday to charges that he defrauded investors and illegally diverted a massive amount of customer deposits to his Alameda Research crypto hedge fund for his own personal benefit and to help grow his crypto empire.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan set a tentative trial date of October 2. Bankman-Fried, 30, has been under house arrest at his parents’ California home on a $250 million bond.

After spending a week on remand at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) he was extradited to the United States from The Bahamas late last month to face federal charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering, related to the collapse of his crypto exchange, which sank into bankruptcy last November.

Carolyn Ellison, 28, who ran Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, 29,FTX’s co-founder FTX, have already pleaded guilty to fraud charges and are said to be cooperating with prosecutors.

Amid those developments, The Securities Commission of The Bahamas recently again moved to condemn the public statements and court filings made by FTX CEO John J. Ray III, the representative of the U.S. FTX debtors in Chapter 11 proceedings.

In a statement, the commission pointed to public assertions made by Ray challenging its calculations of digital assets it recovered from FTX Digital Markets (FTXDM).

The commission is reportedly holding some $3.5 billion in digital assets under its control.

“The US Debtors’ continued lack of diligence when making public statements concerning the Commission is disappointing, and reflects a cavalier attitude towards the truth and towards The Bahamas that has been displayed by the current officers of the Chapter 11 Debtors from the date of their appointment by Sam Bankman-Fried,” the statement read.

“Previously, Mr. Ray made public statements alleging that the Commission gave instructions to “mint a substantial amount of new tokens.” These statements were made in a court filing on 12 December 2022, without evidence, and then made again under oath, on 13 December, before the United States’ House Financial Services Committee.

“Statements suggesting that Bahamian officials directed FTX employees to mint USD300 million in new FTT tokens were widely reported by the international press. Such unfounded statements have the impact of promoting mistrust of public institutions in The Bahamas. The Commission addressed the process by which it took possession of digital assets under the custody or control of FTX Digital Markets Ltd. (“FTXDM”) or its principals, both in a court filing and, its statement of 29 December 2022.”

The commission also noted allegations that the digital assets under its control were stolen were unsubstantiated, adding there was also disputed claims to the ownership of the assets.

“Mr. Ray has not once reached out to the Commission to discuss any of his concerns before airing them publicly,” the statement continued.

“The Commission has still not received a response to its 7 December 2022 letter to Mr. Ray offering cooperation with Chapter 11 Debtors. The Commission is extremely concerned that its investigation (particularly the gathering of critical supporting evidence) is being impeded by the Chapter 11 Debtors’ insistence on not allowing the Court Supervised Joint Provisional Liquidators access to FTX’s AWS system.

“The Commission notes that proceedings being conducted by the authorities in relevant jurisdictions should have the dual aim of pursuing justice and ensuring that all customers and creditors of FTX be made whole, with the support and cooperation among supervisory authorities in each country.”