Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is scheduled to appear in court on the afternoon of Jan. 3 to enter a plea on two counts of wire fraud and six counts of conspiracy against him in relation to the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, Reuters reported on Dec. 28, citing court records. Bankman-Fried will appear before District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.
Judge Kaplan was assigned to the case on Dec. 27 after the original judge on the case, Ronnie Abrams, recused herself due to connections between FTX and the Davis Polk & Wardwell law firm, where her husband is a partner. The firm provided advisory services to FTX in 2021.
Kaplan was nominated by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1994 and is known for his straightforward manner and efficient handling of courtroom procedures.
Bankman-Fried stated numerous times before his arrest that he does not believe he bears criminal liability for his actions as FTX CEO, saying it was simply an accounting snafu that led to him “unknowingly commingled funds” of Alameda and FTX customers. John Ray, Bankman-Fried’s successor at FTX, told a hearing of the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, “I don’t find any such statements to be credible.”
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Ray has been brutal in his assessment of Bankman-Fried’s management of the crypto exchange he cofounded. Ray said in written testimony ahead of the House hearing:
“Never in my career have I seen such an utter failure of corporate controls at every level of an organization, from the lack of financial statements to a complete failure of any internal controls or governance whatsoever.”
Bankman-Fried is currently living with his parents in California on $250 million bail, part of which is made up of the equity from his parent’s house. There were several other conditions on Bankman-Fried’s release, including mental health and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, members of his inner circle at FTX and the related trading firm Alameda Research, have pleaded guilty to the charges against them and have agreed to cooperate with the prosecution, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams announced Dec. 22. The deal with Ellison and Wang was reported made before that date but kept secret until Bankman-Fried agreed to extradition from the Bahamas.
Bankman-Fried’s close associates Nishad Singh, the former director of engineering, and Sam Trabucco, the former co-CEO of Alameda Research with Ellison who resigned Aug. 24, have not been charged at this time.