Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty as he faces over a century in prison

Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the now-defunct FTX crypto exchange, has officially refuted accusations that he cheated investors and customers.

In a US court, Sam Bankman-Fried entered a not guilty plea to charges that he used consumer deposits at FTX to pay his other business, Alameda Research, as well as to purchase real estate and give to political campaigns.

Following his arrest last month, he was freed on a $250 million (£208 million) bond deal.

But if found guilty, he could spend more than a century in jail. The trial date is scheduled for October 2 by Judge Lewis Kaplan.

Two of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s associates have already entered guilty pleas and are helping the investigation, which has rocked the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.

The 30-year-old former billionaire acknowledged faults in interviews conducted prior to his arrest but blamed the issues on his own “mistakes.”

As the court case progresses, it is not unusual for defendants to frequently alter their pleas.

One of the most prominent characters in the cryptocurrency sector, Mr. Bankman-Fried created FTX in 2019. 

He was known for his political affiliations and celebrity endorsements.

However, a wave of client withdrawals prompted by news of unstable finances in November caused FTX to file for bankruptcy and disclose billions of dollars in missing funds.

Federal prosecutors claimed in a news conference last month that “intentional fraud” was to blame for the platform’s collapse, which enabled users to purchase and trade digital tokens.

According to the prosecution, Mr. Bankman-Fried took money from FTX customers to finance other investments and pay off debts at his other business, Alameda.

Eight criminal accusations, including wire fraud, money laundering, and crimes related to campaign funding, were made public. 

Additionally, accusations were made against Mr. Bankman-Fried by financial regulators.

In the Bahamas, where he resided and FTX had its headquarters, Mr. Bankman-Fried was detained in December.

After being extradited to the US, he was granted bail for $250 million and released.

He was obliged to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet as part of his bail conditions and was primarily confined to his parents’ California home, who are Stanford University law professors.

His parents co-signed the bond with him, pledging to pay the money if Mr. Bankman-Fried doesn’t show up in court.

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