Democrat Megadonor Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty In Fraud Case

Democrat megadonor Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and cryptocurrency trading firm Alameda Research, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he cheated FTX investors — causing billions of dollars in losses, which prosecutors have deemed an epic fraud.

Bankman-Fried, 30, entered his plea on Tuesday through his lawyer before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan federal court. The former crypto CEO has been charged with eight criminal counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The judge has set the date of the trial for October 2. Danielle Sassoon, a federal prosecutor, has estimated that Bankman-Fried’s trial could take roughly four weeks — noting that the government will soon hand over hundreds of thousands of documents containing evidence to his defense lawyers.

The alleged fraudster has been accused of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits to use to support his Alameda Research hedge fund, purchase real estate, and to make millions of dollars in political contributions — most of which was given to Democrat politicians.

The former crypto CEO rode the past boom in the value of bitcoin and other digital assets to ultimately build a net worth of roughly $26 billion, which allowed him to become an influential political donor in the United States.

According to Breitbart News, “Bankman-Fried was the second largest donor to Democrats in the 2022 election cycle, behind mega Democrat donor George Soros.”

Many of those Democrats have returned the donations out of fear that the money was given fraudulently and thus could cause issues for them, but Breitbart noted that “Some Democrats have refused to return the money to FTX and have instead donated or plan to donate it to charity. Donations to charity do not eliminate any potential claims of fraud, however.”

Bankman-Fried is facing up to 115 years in prison if convicted.

After FTX collapsed in early November, Bankman-Fried’s fortune was wiped out and he ultimately declared bankruptcy on November 11 — later claiming he had just $100,000 in his bank account, a sharp decline from the $26 billion net worth that he had built.

However, despite losing all of his money, Bankman-Fried still managed to get released from prison on a $250 million bond on December 22, and retain a high-powered attorney — Mark S. Cohen, the same lawyer who was a member of the legal team that defended Jeffrey Epstein’s accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell. He is now subject to electronic monitoring and required to live with his parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, both of whom are professors at Stanford Law School in California.

The judge has also imposed a new bail condition, stating that Bankman-Fried may not have any access to FTX or Alameda assets.

The prosecutor’s case against the former crypto billionaire was strengthened last month when two of his closest associates — Alameda’s former chief executive Caroline Ellison and FTX’s former chief technology officer Gary Wang — pleaded guilty to seven and four criminal charges, respectively.

Ellison and Wang also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also sued Bankman-Fried, Ellison and Wang. Both Ellison and Wang have settled those civil cases.