Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was extradited to the U.S. late Wednesday to face federal fraud charges related to the misappropriation of billions of dollars of customer funds, U.S. and Bahamian officials said.
The 30-year-old one-time mogul had been held in the Bahamas following his arrest earlier this month, but abruptly dropped a challenge to be transferred to the custody of U.S. authorities where he is to face prosecution in New York.
Bankman-Fried was in FBI custody Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court for arraignment “as soon as possible,” Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a Twitter post.
Two former business associates of Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, have pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the alleged fraud scheme, Williams said. He did not specify the allegations.
Before the spectacular financial collapse, Bankman-Fried was the face of FTX, a global company with more than 130 affiliates that allowed individual investors to trade cryptocurrencies, growing to be the third-largest exchange by volume. The company’s commercials featured prominent celebrities, and its logo appeared on an NBA stadium and on MLB umpire uniforms.
Political contributions:Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations totaled millions. FTX could sue to recover them.
Bankman-Fried is accused of using billions of dollars of FTX funds to make personal investments and millions of dollars in contributions to political campaigns while repaying billions in loans owed by Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency hedge fund that he also founded, according to court documents.
The California man is charged with two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, two separate counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Each of the charges carry maximum punishments of 20 years in prison.
Bankman-Fried also is charged with conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit campaign finance violations, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
According to the SEC court complaint, Ellison the former chief executive of Alameda Research, furthered the alleged fraud scheme by following Bankman-Fried’s instructions to manipulate the price of FTT, an FTX-issued crypto security token.
Wang, an FTX co-founder and former chief technology officer, created FTX’s software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds, and enabled Ellison to misappropriate FTX customer funds for Alameda’s trading activity, the SEC court complaint alleged.
5 Things Podcast:FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrested, breakthrough in nuclear fusion