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US Charges FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried With Defrauding Investors

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(BBC)- The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Sam Bankman-Fried with “orchestrating a scheme to defraud investors” in the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

The former FTX boss was arrested on Monday.

Mr Bankman-Fried built a “house of cards on a foundation of deception” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said.

He added that the charges for alleged fraud were a warning for other platforms to comply with US laws.

Speaking to BBC News earlier this month, Mr Bankman-Fried sought to distance himself from accusations of illegal activity.

“I didn’t knowingly commit fraud. I don’t think I committed fraud. I didn’t want any of this to happen. I was certainly not nearly as competent as I thought I was,” he told BBC News cyber reporter Joe Tidy.

Mr Bankman-Fried also denied allegations he must have been aware FTX’s affiliated trading company, Alameda Research, was using FTX customer funds.

Billions invested

Since 2019, Bahamas-based FTX had raised more than $1.8bn (£1.46bn) from equity investors, the SEC said, including approximately $1.1 billion from about 90 US-based investors.

It is alleged that while Mr Bankman-Fried promoted FTX as a “safe, responsible crypto asset trading platform”, in reality he “orchestrated a years-long fraud” to conceal from FTX’s investors the diversion of FTX customers’ funds to Alameda Research LLC, his privately-held crypto hedge fund.

The SEC also alleges he concealed FTX’s exposure to Alameda’s significant holdings of overvalued FTX-affiliated tokens.

Mr Bankman-Fried is also accused of “co-mingling” FTX customers’ funds at Alameda to make “undisclosed venture investments, lavish real estate purchases, and large political donations”.

The 30-year-old turned up in his trademark shorts and scruffy T-shirt, seeming surprisingly calm.

But he did admit he was not getting much sleep since his empire collapsed and he became crypto public enemy number one.

Mr Bankman-Fried spoke to us not in his home but in an apartment still owned by FTX, in the luxury Albany complex about 30 minutes from Bahamian capital Nassau.

Before we started recording, we were told not to take any shots of the multimillion pound yachts or manicured gardens in the marina.

We were also warned not to film his apartment building, which he has had to vacate for “safety reasons”.

Once we began the interview Mr Bankman-Fried spoke for 35 minutes with no topic or question ruled out.

As in other recent interviews, he admitted to mismanaging his FTX empire but tried to distance himself from any criminal wrongdoing.

He also said he did not think he would be arrested and, off camera, heavily hinted details would soon emerge to make the public more believing of his version of events.

“FTX operated behind a veneer of legitimacy Mr. Bankman-Fried created,” said Gurbir S Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“But as we allege in our complaint, that veneer wasn’t just thin, it was fraudulent.”

He added that FTX’s collapse highlighted the risk unregistered crypto asset trading platforms can pose to consumers and investors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also announced charges against Mr Bankman-Fried in parallel actions.


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