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Monday, January 30, 2023
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Judge Grants Bankman–Fried $250M Bond, House Arrest at Parents’ Home

'If you participated in misconduct at FTX or Alameda, now is the time to get ahead of it. We are moving quickly, and our patience is not eternal...'

(Headline USA) The cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman–Fried can post $250 million bond and live in his parents’ home in California while he awaits trial on charges that he swindled investors and looted customer deposits on his FTX trading platform, a judge said Thursday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that Bankman–Fried “perpetrated a fraud of epic proportions.”

Roos proposed strict bail terms, including a $250 million bond and house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.

An important reason for allowing bail was that Bankman–Fried agreed to waive extradition, Roos said.

Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein agreed to the bond and also approved the house arrest proposal. He also said Bankman–Fried would be required to get an electronic monitoring bracelet before leaving the Manhattan courthouse.

Bankman–Fried wore a suit and tie in court and sat between his attorneys. Two U.S. marshals sat behind him.

Bankman–Fried, arrested in the Bahamas last week, was flown to New York late Wednesday after deciding not to challenge his extradition.

While he was in the air, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan announced that two of Bankman–Fried’s closest business associates had also been charged and had secretly pleaded guilty.

Carolyn Ellison, 28, the former chief executive of Bankman=-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, 29, who co-founded FTX, pleaded guilty to charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a video statement that both were cooperating with investigators and had agreed to assist in any prosecution. He warned others who enabled the alleged fraud to come forward.

“If you participated in misconduct at FTX or Alameda, now is the time to get ahead of it,” he said. “We are moving quickly, and our patience is not eternal.”

Prosecutors and regulators contend that Bankman–Fried was at the center of several illegal schemes to use customer and investor money for personal gain. He faces the possibility of decades in prison if convicted on all counts.

In a series of interviews before his arrest, Bankman–Fried said he never intended to defraud anyone.

Bankman–Fried is charged with using money, illicitly taken from FTX customers, to enable trades at Alameda, spend lavishly on real estate, and make millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

The 30-year-old crypto wunderkind leveraged his ill-gotten wealth to donate heavily to left-wing causes, becoming the second largest Democratic donor in the 2022 election cycle, behind only George Soros. But many of his beneficiaries now find themselves scrambling to get rid of the funds, often by donating them to other Democrat candidates or causes.

Bankman–Fried and his associates also have been implicated in what appears to be a massive money-laundering scheme in which President Joe Biden funneled money to Ukraine, which then paid FTX for its services, which then redirected funds back to the Democratic National Committee and its candidates.

FTX, founded in 2019, rode the crypto investing phenomenon to great heights quickly, becoming one of the world’s largest exchanges for digital currency. Seeking customers beyond the tech world, it hired the comic actor and writer Larry David to appear in a TV ad that ran during the Super Bowl, hyping crypto as the next big thing.

Bankman–Fried’s crypto empire, however, abruptly collapsed in early November when customers pulled deposits en masse amid reports questioning some of its financial arrangements.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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