Sam Bankman-Fried released on $250 million bond
Sam Bankman-Fried escapes from prison awaiting trial. A New York federal judge agreed on Thursday to release the founder and former head of the cryptocurrency trading platform FTX, on a monster bail of … 250 million dollars. The most famous character in the world of cryptocurrencies therefore left the Manhattan federal court free around 8:30 pm French time.
Accused in particular of fraud and criminal association, “SBF” – his nickname – was extradited on Wednesday evening from the Bahamas, where the headquarters of the FTX was located, after he waived contesting the extradition. his to the American authorities. The high bail is partially secured by the Californian home of Sam-Bankman Fried’s parents, where he will be under house arrest pending his trial, under conditions approved by Judge Gabriel Gorenstein.
“Minimum” risk of leakage
At the end of November, the central figure in the biggest scandal in the history of cryptocurrencies declared that he only has $100,000 available. At its peak, at the beginning of the year, his fortune was estimated at 26 billion dollars, entirely based on the shares of his companies, which have since failed.
The magistrate authorized the release from custody of the 30-year-old defendant because, according to him, he presents a “minimal” flight risk and has never been convicted before. Known for his dark t-shirts and shorts, “SBF” appeared at the hearing in a gray suit and tie.
What are the suspicions hanging over Sam Bankman-Fried?
Sam Bankman-Fried is suspected of having used, with collaborators, funds deposited on the platform by FTX clients to carry out speculative financial transactions with his other company, Alameda Research. In addition to risky transactions through Alameda, he is also suspected of having invested part of this money in real estate in the Bahamas and of making donations to Democratic politicians – always with funds from FTX clients – including Joe Biden during the – his presidential campaign.
Five of the eight charges brought against him each provide for a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. What has long been considered an iconoclastic genius of cryptocurrencies is therefore likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.
The Manhattan federal prosecutor revealed Wednesday that two other key figures in the case were recently charged with fraud and criminal association. The latter pleaded guilty and are collaborating with the government, which means they can incriminate Sam Bankman-Fried. These are Caroline Ellison, former head of the company Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX, accused “in connection with their role in the fraud that contributed to the collapse of FTX,” said Damian Williams, without giving more details. .
Since the failure of FTX on November 11, Sam Bankman-Fried repeatedly argued publicly that he had not been at the helm of Alameda Research for several months, indirectly incriminating Caroline Ellison. Argument contested by the public prosecutor, who claims that “SBF” remained the main decision-maker within Alameda until FTX filed for bankruptcy. “If you were involved in any crimes at FTX or Alameda, now is the time to come forward,” Damian Williams warned Wednesday, urging other alumni of both companies to work with the prosecution. “We are moving fast and our patience is short-lived. »
Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang have also been sued for civil justice by the two main regulators of the US financial market, the SEC and the CFTC. They promised to cooperate with the SEC, and acknowledged the facts attributed to them by the CFTC, which should earn them, in both cases, a more lenient sentence. The CFTC estimates that the total amount of funds misappropriated from FTX customer accounts is $8 billion.
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