FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried Denied Bail after Arrest, Faces up to 115 Years in Jail

Bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been denied bail after his arrest in the Bahamas.

Bankman-Fried was taken into custody by Bahamian authorities at the request of the U.S. government on Monday.

On Tuesday, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt ruled that Bankman-Fried’s $250,000 bail request would be denied.

The judge determined that Bankman-Fried poses a flight risk because of his access to financial resources, The New York Times reported.

The ruling came during the hearing that lasted more than three hours.

The judge ordered the 30-year-old to be remanded to a Bahamas correctional facility until February 8, 2023.

Bankman-Fried was arrested on Monday by Bahamas law enforcement at the request of the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

U.S. prosecutors notified the Bahamas Attorney General’s Office that it had filed criminal charges against the former crypto billionaire, who once had an estimated net worth of $26 billion.

An extradition treaty has been in place between the United States and the Bahamas since 1994.

The Bahamas said it would likely request Bankman-Fried’s extradition.

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His legal team reportedly told the court they plan to fight any extradition order to the United States.

Prosecutors, including the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), have filed charges against Bankman-Fried, including wire fraud, as well as conspiracies to commit wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and fraud against the United States.

He faces up to 115 years behind bars if he’s convicted of all eight charges.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler said the former FTX boss “built a house of cards on a foundation of deception while telling investors that it was one of the safest buildings in crypto” and orchestrated a scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX.

The CFTC has charged Bankman-Fried with fraud and material misrepresentations and claimed that his actions prompted the loss of over $8 billion in FTX customer deposits. 

In a statement, the CFTC accused FTX of commingling customer funds with that of its sister hedge fund, Alameda Research.

According to an indictment (pdf) unsealed on Tuesday morning, U.S. prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried had engaged in a scheme to defraud FTX’s customers by misappropriating those customers’ deposits and using them to pay the expenses and debts of Alameda Research.

They also accuse him of making “tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions” to both Democratic and Republican candidates and campaign committees that were not under his name, according to Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for Southern New York.

Bahamas-based FTX was once valued at $32 billion after raising $400 million from investors, and Bankman-Fried became known for his philanthropic lifestyle, becoming the second-largest individual donor to the Democratic Party.

However, in November, the crypto exchange spectacularly collapsed amid a liquidity crisis after it was revealed that Alameda had been using FTX customer assets to keep it propped up.

A potential rescue deal by larger rival Binance was subsequently pulled and traders rushed to pull billions from the platform.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on November 11.

Millions of people who used the exchange have been left unable to access their crypto wallets.

According to a court filing, FTX owed its 50 largest creditors almost $3.1 billion.

Despite the incredible collapse of the company and looming questions regarding billions in missing funds, Bankman-Fried has continued to give multiple interviews to various media outlets and recently spoke at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Nov. 30.

During such interviews, the former billionaire has repeatedly denied committing any fraud at FTX but has admitted to making multiple “mistakes” while heading the company.

In an interview with the BBC published on Saturday, Bankman-Fried revealed his plans to set up a new business in an effort to pay back investors who have lost billions of dollars.

“I’m going to be thinking about how we can help the world and if users haven’t gotten much back, I’m going to be thinking about what I can do for them,” he said.

“And I think at the very least, I have a duty to FTX users to do right by them as best as I can.”

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By Nick R. Hamilton

Nick has a broad background in journalism, business, and technology. He covers news on cryptocurrency, traditional assets, and economic markets.

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