Two associates of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried are reportedly “cooperating with investigators” in the prosecutors’ fraud case against the boss of the failed cryptocurrency exchange.
Bankman-Fried former allies have pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges related to the collapse of the FTX.
Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, who co-founded FTX along with Bankman-Fried, both pleaded guilty.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Damian Williams announced on Thursday that the two have been charged in connection with “their roles in the fraud that contributed to FTX’s collapse.”
Both Ellison, 28, and Wang, 29, pleaded guilty to several counts including wire fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud in agreements signed with prosecutors earlier this month.
Ellison and Wang admitted to the crimes as part of a plea deal in return for leniency in their sentences.
They are “cooperating with investigators,” Williams said.
He added that anyone else who participated in misconduct at FTX or Alameda Research should reach out to his office and “get ahead of it,” noting that “we are moving quickly and our patience is not eternal.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Ellison pleaded guilty to seven counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, according to her plea agreement signed on Monday.
Wang pleaded guilty to four counts, including wire fraud.
Without the deal signed with prosecutors, Ellison, who also faces a money laundering conspiracy charge, could face up to 110 years behind bars.
Wang, a former Google engineer, could get up to 50 years.
Both were released on $250,000 bail after their privately-held court appearances with travel restricted to the continental United States.
Ilan Graff, a lawyer for Wang, said in a statement, “Gary has accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that it has charged Wang and Ellison for their “roles in a multiyear scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX” adding that “investigations into other securities law violations and into other entities and persons relating to the alleged misconduct are ongoing.”
Ellison and Wang were “active participants in the scheme to deceive FTX’s investors and engaged in conduct that was critical to its success,” the SEC said.
Wang created FTX’s software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds, according to the SEC, while Ellison then used the misappropriated funds for Alameda’s trading activity, the SEC said.
The SEC noted that the two former Bankman-Fried associates are cooperating with its ongoing investigations.
“As part of their deception, we allege that Caroline Ellison and Sam Bankman-Fried schemed to manipulate the price of FTT, an exchange crypto security token that was integral to FTX, to prop up the value of their house of cards,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler.
“We further allege that Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang played an active role in a scheme to misuse FTX customer assets to prop up Alameda and to post collateral for margin trading.
“When FTT and the rest of the house of cards collapsed, Mr. Bankman-Fried, Ms. Ellison, and Mr. Wang left investors holding the bag.
“Until crypto platforms comply with time-tested securities laws, risks to investors will persist. It remains a priority of the SEC to use all of our available tools to bring the industry into compliance.”
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission also announced that it had filed fraud charges against Ellison and Wang.
That complaint charges Ellison with fraud and material misrepresentations in connection with the sale of digital asset commodities in interstate commerce and charges Wang with fraud in connection with the sale of digital asset commodities in interstate commerce.
Williams also confirmed on Wednesday that Bankman-Fried is now in the custody of the FBI and on his way back to the United States where he is set to be transported directly to the Southern District of New York to appear before a judge “as soon as possible.”
On Wednesday, Bankman-Fried agreed to be extradited to the United States on multiple charges after he was arrested on a U.S. extradition request in the Bahamas on Dec. 12.
The 30-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty of the charges.
The charges include wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and fraud against the United States.