Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the founder of now-bankrupt FTX and Alameda Research, is reportedly expected to plead not guilty at his arraignment for eight charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to break campaign finance laws.
Several alleged co-conspirators, including Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, FTX co-founder, have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the same scheme.
There are also ongoing CFTC and SEC civil suits being brought against Bankman-Fried which allege both commodities fraud and securities fraud. Specifically, they detail how Alameda Research was granted special privileges allowing it to tap into FTX customer deposits to fund its activities.
Entering a ‘not guilty’ plea at your arraignment doesn’t prevent you from eventually changing that plea, especially in complex cases where the defense counsel will need significant time to review the evidence and case. For a defendant who’s hoping to negotiate a plea bargain, pleading not guilty allows time for such a deal to be struck.
Needless to say, this case is set to be extremely high-profile with billions of dollars worth of customer deposits currently unaccounted for, and the current CEO of the bankrupt companies describing “a complete failure of corporate controls and… a complete absence of trustworthy financial information.”