FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty In Criminal Crypto Case

FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty In Criminal Crypto Case


NEW YORK — FTX founder and fallen cryptocurrency guru Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty through his attorney at his arraignment Tuesday on charges he misappropriated billions of dollars, defrauding customers and investors in companies he controlled while allegedly concealing his illegal handling of funds.

It was the second courtroom appearance in Manhattan for Bankman-Fried, 30, who was extradited from the Bahamas last month and has been under a house arrest order on a $250 million bond for nearly two weeks. Bankman-Fried is wearing an ankle monitor and is required to remain at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, Calif., except for court appearances and exercise sessions.

He arrived at the courthouse more than an hour before his case was called, surrounded by a pack of photographers as he climbed out of a black SUV.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is now overseeing the case, did not immediately rule on whether to give anonymity to two parties who must join Bankman-Fried’s parents in endorsing his bond. A previous judge ordered that one of those two additional people cannot be a relative.

Typically, bond sureties are identified in court and their names are a matter of public record. On Tuesday morning, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys submitted a letter to Kaplan requesting anonymity for the remaining two people, citing safety concerns and noting that Bankman-Fried’s parents, who are both professors at Stanford Law School, have received alarming communications.

“In recent weeks, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents have become the target of intense media scrutiny, harassment, and threats,” the letter said. “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.”

Entry of a plea is standard at the start of a case. The 30-year-old could change his plea as the case progresses either on his own or as part of a negotiated deal with prosecutors.

Two of Bankman-Fried’s close associates have already entered into cooperation agreements with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, and it appears prosecutors have compiled a significant body of evidence in a relatively short time frame.

Prosecutors have said that Bankman-Fried’s personal wealth also took an enormous hit as his empire collapsed around him. FTX had been the third-largest crypto exchange in the world, and its brand benefited from advertisements featuring powerhouse celebrities, including athletes such as Tom Brady and Stephen Curry.

FTX’s collapse in early November marked a major shift in the cryptocurrency landscape, shaking customer and investor trust in other major exchanges. Bankman-Fried, who is charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and related counts, is facing significant prison time if convicted in what prosecutors have called a “very strong” case. He faces up to 115 years in prison.

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