FTX crypto exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried is being extradited from the Bahamas by US law enforcement.
The founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried was being extradited from the Bahamas by US law enforcement on Wednesday, to answer to charges tied to his role in FTX’s failure. He is expected to appear in a federal court in New York City on Thursday.
Meanwhile, two of Sam Bankman-Fried’s top associates secretly pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and are cooperating with investigators, a federal prosecutor announced Wednesday as the digital coin entrepreneur was being flown in FBI custody to the U.S. from the Bahamas.
Carolyn Ellison, the 28-year-old former CEO of Alameda Research, a trading firm started by Bankman-Fried, and Gary Wang, the 29-year-old who co-founded FTX, pleaded guilty to charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.
“They are both cooperating with the Southern District of New York,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Wednesday night in a video statement released on social media.
He added that anyone else who participated in the fraud should reach out to his office because “our patience is not eternal” and further criminal charges against others were possible.
The surprise guilty pleas were announced as Bankman-Fried was being extradited from the Bahamas by U.S. law enforcement to answer to charges tied to his role in FTX’s failure. He was expected to appear in a federal court in New York City on Thursday.
Before Bankman-Fried was in the air, US prosecutors hadn’t publicly revealed that Ellison and Wang were facing potential criminal charges or that they had pledged to work with investigators.
It was unclear whether Bankman-Fried, who has apologized for FTX’s collapse but denied defrauding anyone, was also in the dark.
Ellison and Wang signed plea agreements on Dec. 19, partially in exchange for a promise that prosecutors would recommend a reduction in their sentences if they cooperate fully in the investigation.
Without such a deal, Ellison, who also faces a money laundering conspiracy charge, could face up to 110 years in prison. Wang could get up to 50 years.
Both were released on $250,000 (€235,000) bail after their secret court appearances with travel restricted to the continental United States.
“Gary has accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness,” said Wang’s lawyer, Ilan Graff.
A lawyer for Ellison did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
In a parallel civil complaint filed Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wang and Ellison were “active participants” in what it said was Bankman-Fried’s scheme to defraud FTX investors and swindle its customers.
Wang created the software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds. Ellison then used the misappropriated funds for Alameda’s trading activity, the SEC said.