Top FTX executives close to Sam Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, have pleaded guilty to fraud and are cooperating with prosecutors. The pair were convicted “in connection with their roles in the fraud that contributed to FTX’s collapse,” said Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York in a press conference.
Ellison, the former CEO of FTX sister company Alameda Research and ex-girlfriend of Bankman-Fried, pleaded guilty to seven counts and faces up to 110 years in prison. Former FTX co-founder Wang pleaded guilty to four counts and faces 50 years. Depending on the level of cooperation, however, they could receive lighter sentences. The pair also face civil fraud charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC). Both were released on $250,000 bonds.
The announcement was made as Bankman-Fried was being extradited from the Bahamas to New York, and add to his mounting legal woes. Wang’s lawyer Ilan Graff said that his client has “accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness,” according to The Washington Post.
Despite their cooperation, the SEC didn’t mince words in laying out its case against Ellison and Wang. “Mr. Bankman-Fried, Ms. Ellison, and Mr. Wang were active participants in a scheme to conceal material information from FTX investors,” said SEC deputy director of enforcement, Sanjay Wadhwa. “By surreptitiously siphoning FTX’s customer funds onto the books of Alameda, defendants hid the very real risks that FTX’s investors and customers faced.”
Bankman-Fried, meanwhile, is accused of a long list of misdeeds by multiple agencies, including the SEC, Department of Justice and CFTC. Those include defrauding FTX investors and customers of more than $1.9 billion, multiple counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud investors by sharing misleading information and “surreptitiously” siphoning customer funds. The CFTC also alleges that Bankman-Fried and his cohorts “took hundreds of millions of dollars in poorly-documented ‘loans’ from Alameda,” which they then used to purchase real estate and make political donations.
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