Crime & Justice

FTX founder pleads not guilty

New York, Jan 3 (EFE).- The founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges filed in connection with the firm’s collapse, which cost clients an estimated $8 billion dollars in losses.

Bankman-Fried, 30, did not speak during the hearing at a United States Federal Court in front of Judge Lewis Kaplan, who set a tentative trial date of Oct. 2.

“He pleads not guilty to all counts,” defense attorney Mark Cohen said on his client’s behalf.

SBF, as the fallen crypto mogul is known, was accompanied by his mother, Stanford Law School professor Barbara Fried, lawyers and bodyguards.

Extradited to the US from the Bahamas on Dec. 21, the defendant remains free on a bond of $250 million, albeit under the “strict supervision” of Fried and father Joseph Bankman – another Stanford Law professor – at the couple’s home in Palo Alto, California.

The former CEO of FTX, which had a putative value of $32 billion at its peak, spent more than a week behind bars in the Bahamas – his adopted home – before agreeing to be extradited.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11 and the new, court-appointed CEO, John Ray, has characterized the situation at the firm as a “complete failure of corporate control.”

SBF could face 115 years in prison if convicted on all eight counts pertaining to offenses including securities fraud, money laundering and violating campaign finance laws.

Ahead of Tuesday’s court hearing, the US attorney in Manhattan announced the formation of an FTX Task Force to recover victims’ assets and coordinate investigations related to the company and associated entities.

“The Southern District of New York is working around the clock to respond to the implosion of FTX,” Damian Williams said in a statement.

Prosecutors disclosed last month that they had reached plea agreements with FTX co-founder Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison, who headed FTX-linked hedge fund Alameda Research.

Ellison and Wang pleaded guilty to fraud charges and are cooperating with law enforcement. EFE nqs/dr

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