Monday, January 9, 2023

Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty in FTX fraud case; October trial set

Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to criminal charges that he cheated investors in his now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange and caused billions of dollars in losses, in what prosecutors have called an "epic" fraud. He entered his plea in Manhattan federal court where he faces eight criminal counts, including wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. The 30-year-old ex-mogul is accused of looting FTX customers' deposits to support his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy real estate and donate millions of dollars to political causes. "Customer funds were also used and laundered through political donations, charitable donations, and a variety of venture investments," Danielle Sassoon, a federal prosecutor, said at the hearing. Sassoon suggested that the government has a deep well of evidence against Bankman-Fried, saying prosecutors will turn over hundreds of thousands of documents in the coming weeks to the defense. A clean-shaven Bankman-Fried wore a blue suit, white shirt, and dotted blue tie and carried a backpack into the courthouse - a far cry from the shorts and t-shirts that were his preferred attire when he ran FTX from the Bahamas. Bankman-Fried did not speak to the judge during the hearing but conferred privately with his lawyers. He shook hands with one of the prosecutors before the arraignment. When it ended, he approached the handful of courtroom sketch artists and commented on their work. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate could face up to 115 years in prison if convicted. He has previously acknowledged making mistakes at FTX but said he does not believe he has criminal liability.

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