Update: This story has been updated to include details that followed the defendant’s arraignment.
Fallen cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday, as a federal judge fast-tracked his trial date for a jury this upcoming autumn.
Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan scheduled that trial for Oct. 2, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
As Bankman-Fried will be a free man until that time, the judge allowed two people to sign onto their portion of his $250 million bond in secret.
The disgraced FTX founder made the request to seal their identities after claiming that his parents, Stanford University law professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, have “become the target of intense media scrutiny, harassment, and threats,” ever since they secured his bond with their house in late December.
“Among other things, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents have received a steady stream of threatening correspondence, including communications expressing a desire that they suffer physical harm,” Bankman-Fried’s attorney Mark Cohen wrote in a six-page letter on Tuesday morning. “Consequently, there is serious cause for concern that the two additional sureties would face similar intrusions on their privacy as well as threats and harassment if their names appear unredacted on their bonds or their identities are otherwise publicly disclosed.”
Prosecutors say that Bankman-Fried, better known by his initials SBF, misappropriated customers’ money to pay expenses and debts of Alameda Research, his proprietary crypto hedge fund. Two associates from both companies pleaded guilty on Dec. 22: Alameda’s former CEO Caroline Ellison, 28, and FTX’s co-founder Gary Wang, 29.
Judge Kaplan tightened some of the restrictions on Bankman-Fried’s bond to prohibit him from “accessing or transferring” assets from a number of companies associated with him, including FTX, Alameda and their subsidiary and successor entities.
Bankman-Fried faces an eight-count federal indictment charging him with various fraud and conspiracy counts, as well as alleged campaign finance violations. He also faces a separate civil enforcement action from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused him of being a “house of cards on a foundation of deception while telling investors that it was one of the safest buildings in crypto.”
“From the start, contrary to what FTX investors and trading customers were told, Bankman-Fried continually diverted FTX customer funds to Alameda and then used those funds to continue to grow his empire, using billions of dollars to make undisclosed private venture investments, political contributions, and real estate purchases,” the SEC’s 28-page complaint alleges.
It was a precondition of Bankman-Fried’s bond that, in addition to his parents securing it with their house, two additional sureties sign to lesser amounts.
“The two remaining sureties have yet to sign their individual bonds, the amounts of which have not yet been determined with the government, but they intend to do so by January 5, 2023, the deadline set in the order,” the letter states. “Executed bonds are typically available to the press and the public from the Magistrate Court clerk’s office.”
Bankman-Fried appeared in federal court on Monday afternoon in the Southern District of New York before Kaplan, who scheduled oral arguments on any motions he may bring for May 18.
Read the letter here.
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