The 30-year-old former billionaire garnered controversy after users learned that he commingled funds between exchange platform FTX and sister trading firm Alameda Research, losing untold billions’ worth of assets as customers rushed to withdraw their balances. Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to eight charges, which include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Reporters and journalists swarmed a black SUV carrying Bankman-Fried to a courthouse in Manhattan; Barbara Fried, the mother of the disgraced entrepreneur and a prolific Democratic fundraiser, fell to the wet pavement amid the commotion, according to a report from CNBC.
Bankman-Fried was recently released on a $250 million bond and permitted to stay at his parents’ home in northern California near the campus of Stanford University. Caroline Ellison, the former chief executive of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, a co-founder of FTX, have already submitted guilty pleas. Reports have speculated that Ellison, a former romantic interest of Bankman-Fried, may have cooperated with prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan tentatively established a trial date for October during the arraignment, according to a report from journalist Matthew Russell Lee. Mark Cohen, a lawyer for Bankman-Fried who formerly defended Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell, requested that Kaplan permit the sealing of the names and addresses of two individuals who secured the $250 million bond due to attention drawn to the case, which has dominated headlines for more than two months. Kaplan approved the motion.
Bankman-Fried is by no means short on allies: extensive political contributions made by the former executive rendered him the seventh-largest overall donor in the recent midterm elections and the second-largest donor to the campaign which placed President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, according to data from Open Secrets. He claimed during a recent interview that he donated “about the same amount” in dark money to Republicans.
Among the beneficiaries of Bankman-Fried’s donations were incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
Bankman-Fried, who faces 115 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts, was granted audiences at the White House with senior administration officials in the months before his arrest, according to a recent report from Bloomberg. Gabriel Bankman-Fried, his younger brother and the head of the organization Guarding Against Pandemics, joined one of the meetings and received a rendezvous of his own.
A statement from the Securities Commission of the Bahamas confirmed that the agency “took the action of directing the transfer of all digital assets” managed by the company, amounting to $3.5 billion in cryptocurrencies, to government-controlled digital wallets “for safekeeping” as reports of potential cyberattacks began to circulate. The transfer occurred on November 12, the day after FTX filed for bankruptcy in the United States. The assets are held by the agency “on a temporary basis” until the Bahamian Supreme Court decides how the assets should be handled.