Associates of FTX founder plead guilty to criminal charges

A group of men in suits
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, center, is escorted from the Magistrate Court in Nassau, Bahamas on Wednesday.
(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)

A federal prosecutor says two associates of Sam Bankman-Fried have pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Carolyn Ellison, the former chief executive of Alameda Research, a trading firm started by Bankman-Fried, and Gary Wang, who co-founded FTX along with Bankman-Fried, pleaded guilty to charges “related to their roles in the fraud that contributed to FTX’s collapse,” U.S. Atty. Damian Williams said Wednesday night.

The guilty pleas were announced as Bankman-Fried was being flown to the U.S. from the Bahamas by U.S. law enforcement to answer to charges tied to his role in FTX’s failure.


In agreements signed with prosecutors Monday, Ellison and Wang agreed to plead guilty to charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.

Bahamas’ attorney general’s office said that Bankman-Fried would be leaving for the United States on Wednesday, noting he had waived his right to challenge the extradition.

Reporters on the scene witnessed Bankman-Fried leaving a Magistrate Court in Nassau in a dark SUV earlier Wednesday. The vehicle was later seen arriving at a private airfield by Nassau’s airport, from which he was expected to be flown to the United States. He was due to land in New York and will likely appear in front of a U.S. judge Thursday.

The bank provides deposit, payment and security services to the digital currency industry, which has been reeling from high-profile bankruptcies.

Dec. 13, 2022

“The Bahamas has determined that the provisional arrest, and subsequent written consent by [Bankman-Fried] to be extradited without formal extradition proceedings satisfies the requirements of the [extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Bahamas] and our nation’s Extradition Act,” Bahamian Atty. Gen. Ryan Pinder said in a statement.

Bahamian authorities arrested Bankman-Fried last week at the request of the U.S. government. U.S. prosecutors allege he played a central role in the rapid collapse of FTX and hid its problems from the public and investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Bankman-Fried illegally used investors’ money to buy real estate on behalf of himself and his family.

The 30-year-old could potentially spend the rest of his life in jail.

Bankman-Fried was denied bail Friday after a Bahamian judge ruled that he posed a flight risk. The founder and former CEO of FTX, once worth tens of billions of dollars on paper, had been held in the Bahamas’ Fox Hill prison, which has been cited by human rights activists as having poor sanitation and as being infested with rats and insects.


Once he’s back in the U.S., Bankman-Fried’s attorney will be able to request that he be released on bail.

Bankman-Fried was one of the world’s wealthiest people on paper, with an estimated net worth of $32 billion. He was a prominent personality in Washington, donating millions of dollars toward mostly left-leaning political causes and Democratic political campaigns. FTX grew to become the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

The maximum potential prison exposure from the eight-count criminal indictment filed against Bankman-Fried is 115 years, according to prosecutors.

Dec. 13, 2022

He has said that he did not “knowingly” misuse customers’ funds, and said he believes his millions of angry customers will eventually be made whole.

At a congressional hearing last week, the new FTX CEO, John Ray III, who is tasked with taking the company through bankruptcy, bluntly disputed those assertions: “We will never get all these assets back,” Ray said.