FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Formally Charged With Conspiracy, Fraud in US Court

Bankman-Fried was arrested in The Bahamas on Monday.

AccessTimeIconDec 13, 2022 at 2:53 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 13, 2022 at 8:04 p.m. UTC

U.S. prosecutors revealed a litany of charges against Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of crypto exchange FTX, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and campaign finance violations early Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried was arrested Monday evening in the Bahamas, at the U.S.'s request, and is scheduled to appear before a local magistrate court on Tuesday. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced late Monday it would move to unseal an indictment and seek his extradition to the U.S. A federal judge unsealed the indictment Tuesday morning.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants Bankman-Fried to forfeit any property derived from these alleged crimes.

According to the DOJ indictment, Bankman-Fried "agreed with others to defraud customers of FTX.com by misappropriating those customers' deposits and using those deposits to pay expenses and debts of Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried's proprietary crypto hedge fund, and to make investments."

Earlier on Tuesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Future Trading Commission also announced various charges against Bankman-Fried.

In total, Bankman-Fried faces eight charges:

  • Conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers;
  • Wire fraud on customers;
  • Conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders;
  • Wire fraud on lenders;
  • Conspiracy to commit commodities fraud;
  • Conspiracy to commit securities fraud;
  • Conspiracy to commit money laundering; and
  • Conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and violate campaign finance laws.

The document suggests that Bankman-Fried may have lied about FTX's financial health.

"On or about September 18, 2022, Samuel Bankman-Fried, a/k/a 'SBF,' the defendant, caused an email to be sent to an FTX investor in New York, New York that contained materially false information about FTX's financial condition," the filing said.

This would have happened before the true issues with FTX's financial situation were publicly known.

Bankman-Fried allegedly violated campaign finance laws by donating well over federal limits to candidates for public office, fundraising committees and independent expenditure committees, the document said.

Bankman-Fried was supposed to testify before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, before his arrest. The former CEO also spoke to a number of news organizations and an assortment of people about the collapse of FTX in the month between its filing for bankruptcy and his arrest.

UPDATE (Dec. 13, 2022, 15:20 UTC): Adds additional detail.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.