Sam Bankman-Fried will be released to his family home pending trial on fraud charges after agreeing to a record $250 million US bail.
Bankman-Fried has been accused of stealing billions of dollars in FTX client funds to cover up and offset the losses of his hedge fund, Alameda Research, before both companies and others went bankrupt last month. I was.
Bankman-Fried, 30, has built a cryptocurrency empire in the Bahamas since his company went bankrupt in November. But this week, the case moved quickly after he was arrested by Bahamian authorities and extradited to New York on Wednesday night.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, argued that his client would be willing to comply with any terms if he was released before trial.
“The client stayed in place and made no effort to flee,” Cohen told a New York court.
Dressed in a gray suit and leg restraints, Bankman-Fried sat surrounded by lawyers and nodded as he told them the judge would issue an arrest warrant if he didn’t appear in court.
The bail package required Bankman-Fried to relinquish his passport and place himself under house arrest at his parents’ house in Palo Alto, California. He also had to undergo regular mental health treatment and evaluation.
His parents – both professors at Stanford Law School – co-signed the bond and posted the stock certificate at home to ensure Bankman-Fried’s return to court.
Although he has admitted to making mistakes, in a series of media interviews Bankman-Fried refuted the notion that he did something illegal or did something to benefit himself. After peaking at over $25 billion earlier this year, Bankman-Fried said his personal net worth is now around $100,000.
Prosecutor Nicholas Roos called the package “the largest pretrial bond ever.”
Magistrate Justice Gabriel W. Gollenstein asked Bankman-Fried if he understood that if he chose to flee, he would face arrest and owe $250 million.
“Yes, yes,” Bankman-Fried replied.
others agreed to cooperate
Two other FTX executives, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, pleaded guilty to fraud charges earlier this week but are said to be cooperating with investigators in exchange for a more lenient sentence. .
Ellison, 28, was the CEO of Alameda Research, and Wang, 29, was a co-founder of FTX.
In a video statement released on social media Wednesday night, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said, “They are both working with the Southern District of New York.
Neither Wang nor Ellison said anything publicly before Wednesday’s handover of Bankman-Fried, and prosecutors said they were facing potential criminal charges and had no intention of cooperating with investigators. Bankman-Fried, who apologized for the FTX demise but denied cheating anyone, also didn’t know his former partner was working with him. It was unclear what was going on.
He added that anyone else who participated in the fraud should contact his office as “our patience is not forever” and further criminal charges against others are possible.
Ellison and Wang signed a plea bargain on December 19, partly in exchange for a promise that prosecutors would recommend commuting their sentences if they cooperated fully with the investigation. rice field.
Without such an arrangement, Ellison, who also faces money laundering conspiracy charges, could face up to 110 years in prison. A king can be up to 50 years old.
Both were released on $250,000 US bail after appearing in secret courts with travel restricted to the continental United States.
“Gary accepts responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his duties as a co-witness,” Wang’s attorney Ilan Graf said.
Ellison’s attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Wang wrote software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds. Ellison then used the embezzled funds for Alameda’s trading activities, he said, the SEC said.
Bankman-Fried, 30, could spend the rest of his life in prison.