FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges including fraud and money laundering.
Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, appeared in a New York City courtroom nearly two months after his crypto exchange FTX declared bankruptcy.
The 30-year-old ex-mogul is accused of looting FTX customers’ deposits to support his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy real estate and donate millions of dollars to political causes.
The Department of Justice, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have all accused his empire of operating as a fraud practically from the very start.
“Customer funds were also used and laundered through political donations, charitable donations and a variety of venture investments,” Danielle Sassoon, a federal prosecutor, said at the hearing.
Sassoon suggested that the government has a deep well of evidence against Bankman-Fried, saying prosecutors will turn over hundreds of thousands of documents in coming weeks to the defense.
Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas last month before being extradited to the US to face these charges and is currently living with his parents while free on a $250 million bail.
Two of his close friends and associates, Caroline Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, who were executives within his empire, have already pleaded guilty and were cooperating with the prosecutors.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate could face up to 115 years in prison if convicted. He has previously acknowledged making mistakes at FTX but said he does not believe he has criminal liability.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan tentatively set a start date for the trial on October 2nd, “after US prosecutors said they expect to produce all evidence for the case in the next four weeks.”
The judge also agreed to a request from Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, who pushed to keep private the identities of two people — other than his parents — who have helped secure his bail, saying his parents have already been targeted by threats and harassment.
FTX collapsed in early November after a wave of withdrawals and declared bankruptcy on Nov. 11, wiping out Bankman-Fried’s fortune. He later said he had $100,000 in his bank account.