The founders of FTX, a cryptocurrency trading platform, have each pleaded guilty to criminal charges and are cooperating with prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Wednesday.
Caroline Ellison, CEO of Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s privately-controlled hedge fund, and Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX, pleaded guilty earlier this week, according to newly unsealed court documents. Ellison pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX, wire fraud on customers of FTX, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders of Alameda Research and wire fraud on lenders of Alameda Research, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the court documents.
Both Ellison and Wang are expected to be sentenced in March 2023. Together, the seven counts carry a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison. Word of the guilty pleas and cooperation agreements came after Bankman-Fried took off from the Bahamas aboard a U.S. government plane flying to New York, where he is expected to be arraigned Thursday on an eight-count indictment that charges him with orchestrating one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.
Bankman-Fried and Ellison were both founders of FTX. According to documents filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California, all three defendants admitted to criminal charges including securities fraud and money laundering.
Video: Statement of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams on U.S. v. Samuel Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, and Gary Wang
Last week, we announced charges against Samuel Bankman Freed for a sweeping fraud scheme that contributed to FTX’s collapse and for a campaign finance scheme that sought to influence public policy in Washington. As I said last week, this investigation is very much ongoing and it’s moving very quickly. I also said that last week’s announcement would not be our last. And let me be clear once again, neither is today’s. I want to make two announcements.
First, I’m announcing that the southern district of New York has filed charges against Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda research, and Gary Wong, a cofounder of FTX, in connection with their roles in the frauds that contributed to FTX’s collapse. Both Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wong have pled guilty to those charges, and they are both cooperating with the southern district of New York. Let me reiterate a call that I made last week.
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. Second, I’m announcing that Samuel Bankman Freed is now in FBI custody and is on his way back to the United States. He will be transported directly to the southern district of New York, and he will appear in court before a judge in this district as soon as possible. Many individuals in the Bahamas and in the United States contributed to the swiftness of the defendant’s return.
And I want to thank the Bahamas for its outstanding assistance and excellent coordination with us. I also want to thank our partners at the United States embassy in the Bahamas and the justice department’s office of international Affairs Errors. And finally, I want to thank the FBI for moving mountains to get this done. This was a true team effort. Finally, I want to thank the career prosecutors from my office who were handling this case.
We continue to work around the clock, and we are far from done. Thank you.
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