Crypto: Ex-FTX Boss Released on $250M Bail

NEW YORK: A New York federal judge agreed on Thursday to release the founder and former boss of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange platform, the American Sam Bankman-Fried, on a monster bail of 250 million dollars.

The most famous figure in the world of cryptocurrencies was released from federal court in Manhattan around 7:30 p.m. GMT.

Indicted in particular for fraud and criminal association, “SBF” – his nickname – had been extradited Wednesday evening from the Bahamas, where the headquarters of FTX was located, after having given up contesting his surrender to the American authorities.

The huge bail is partly guaranteed by the Californian house of the parents of Sam-Bankman Fried, where he will be under house arrest pending his trial, according to the conditions approved by Judge Gabriel Gorenstein.

At the end of November, the central figure in the biggest scandal in the history of cryptocurrencies claimed to have only $100,000 available. At its peak, at the start of the year, his fortune was estimated at 26 billion dollars, entirely based on the shares of his companies, which have since gone bankrupt.

The magistrate authorized the release 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” showed up to the audience in a gray suit and tie.

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 via Alameda, he is also suspected of having invested part of this money in real estate in the Bahamas and of having made donations to Democratic politicians – always with funds from FTX clients – including Joe Biden during his presidential campaign.

Five of the eight charges against him each provide for a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.

The one who has long been seen as an iconoclastic genius of cryptocurrencies is therefore likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Relatives collaborate

The Manhattan federal prosecutor revealed Wednesday that two other key figures in the case had recently been charged with fraud and criminal association. The latter have pleaded guilty and are collaborating with the government, which means that they could incriminate Sam Bankman-Fried.

They are Caroline Ellison, former boss of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX, charged “in connection with their role in the fraud that contributed to FTX’s collapse,” Damian said. Williams, without giving further details.

Since the bankruptcy of FTX on November 11, Sam Bankman-Fried has repeatedly argued publicly that he had not been at the helm of Alameda Research for several months, indirectly incriminating Caroline Ellison.

An argument disputed by the prosecution, which claims that “SBF” remained the main decision maker within Alameda until FTX filed for bankruptcy.

“If you have been involved in any offenses at FTX or Alameda, now is the time to come forward,” Damian Williams warned Wednesday, encouraging other alumni from both companies to work with the prosecution. “We are moving fast and our patience is not eternal.”

Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang have also been summoned to civil justice by the two main American financial market regulators, the SEC and the CFTC.

They pledged 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 judgment.

The CFTC estimates the total amount of funds misappropriated from FTX client accounts to be $8 billion.

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Crypto: Ex-FTX Boss Released on $250M Bail

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