Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of FTX, has declared himself innocent of all eight charges brought against him by U.S. authorities.
This comes ahead of his October 2nd trial and may be a move to gain time and have a better understanding of the evidence against him, as well as allowing attorneys Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell to strategize their next move.
The charges against Bankman-Fried include electronic fraud and campaign finance violations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon has summarized the evidence against Bankman-Fried, stating that FTX had a “unique” relationship with Alameda from the start, which allowed for preferential treatment. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has also revealed that the government already possesses thousands of pages of material, including emails and financial records, through interviews with dozens of FTX employees.
Key witnesses in the case include former CEO of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison, and FTX Chief Technical Officer, Gary Wang, both of whom have already pleaded guilty to fraud as part of a cooperation agreement with the government, while Bankman-Fried was still in the Bahamas.
For Bankman-Fried, collaborating with the government may be hindered by his position as head of the company, and therefore no plea bargain was able to be negotiated. “Even if Bankman-Fried wanted to cooperate,” defence attorney Tim Howard stated, “the Southern District of New York would only allow it if the cooperation provided substantial value, which is unlikely.”
In addition to being accused of fraudulently raising $1.8 billion from investors, Bankman-Fried is also charged with misusing customer funds for personal expenses, real estate purchases, and trades at Alameda Research. He is also facing a civil trial brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In media interviews prior to his arrest, Bankman-Fried admitted to being a poor manager but denied intentionally committing fraud.