Here he is handed over. The founder and former head of the FTX cryptocurrency trading platform, Sam Bankman-Fried, arrived in New York on the evening of December 21. According to several American media, he must appear before a judge within the next few hours.
“SBF”, his nickname, “will be taken directly into the southern part of the city by [l’Etat de] New York”jurisdiction that includes Manhattan, upon arrival, “and he will be brought before a judge as soon as possible”Manhattan federal prosecutor Damian Williams had previously announced, in a video posted on Twitter.
Earlier Wednesday, Sam Bankman-Fried agreed to be extradited to the United States during a hearing in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. He shared his “desire to ensure affected customers get their money back”according to The Wall Street Journal.
Manhattan federal prosecutors also revealed Wednesday that two key people in the case had been charged. The latter has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government, which means they can incriminate Sam Bankman-Fried. They are Caroline Ellison, former head of the company Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX, accused “in connection with their role in the fraud that contributed to the collapse of FTX”Damian Williams said without giving further details.
Asked by Agence France-Presse about the charges, the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office did not follow up. According to Wall Street Journal, both were charged with fraud, while only Caroline Ellison was charged with criminal association.
The most important decision maker
Alameda Research is the firm that Sam Bankman-Fried used to conduct risky transactions involving billions of dollars in funds deposited by customers on the FTX platform without their knowledge, according to the indictment.
Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested on December 12 in Nassau and was already detained in the Bahamas.
Since FTX’s bankruptcy on November 11, Sam Bankman-Fried has repeatedly argued publicly that he had not been at the head 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 in Alameda until FTX filed for bankruptcy.
During the first hearing in Manhattan, the New York judge in charge of the case will read him the charges against him and ask him whether he wants to plead guilty or not. She will then decide whether Sam Bankman-Fried should be released on bail.
He faces life in prison
If he is held pending trial, he will be sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, condemned for its lack of staff and questionable management of prisoners.
In addition to risky transactions through Alameda, Sam Bankman-Fried is also suspected of investing some of this money in real estate in the Bahamas. He is also accused of making donations to Democratic politicians – always from funds of FTX clients – including Joe Biden during his presidential campaign.
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Five of the eight charges against him each carry 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.
Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang have also been subpoenaed by the two main US financial market regulators, the SEC and the CFTC. They promised to cooperate with the SEC and acknowledged the facts attributed to them by the CFTC, which should earn them, in both cases, a lighter sentence. The CFTC estimates the total amount of funds misappropriated from FTX customer accounts to be $8 billion (€7.5 billion).