Former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams announced.
Williams added that both Ellison and Wang are cooperating with prosecutors, and that he anticipates bringing more charges against other individuals. But he also urged others involved in the collapsed crypto firm to come forward before charges might be brought, warning, “our patience is not eternal.”
“We continue to work around the clock, and we are far from done,” Williams added.
Sam Bankman-Fried is also now in FBI custody, the U.S. attorney said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission also filed civil charges against the two, alleging that they defrauded investors. Ellison and Wang are also cooperating with those investigations, with both agencies noting that Ellison and Wang settled. If the settlement is approved by a judge, both will give up money they made from FTX and Alameda and be banned from the "issuance, purchase, offer, or sale of any securities," except for their own personal investment accounts.
“As part of their deception, we allege that Caroline Ellison and Sam Bankman-Fried schemed to manipulate the price of FTT, an exchange crypto security token that was integral to FTX, to prop up the value of their house of cards,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler in a statement announcing the enforcement action and settlement. “We further allege that Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang played an active role in a scheme to misuse FTX customer assets to prop up Alameda and to post collateral for margin trading."
Gensler added that Bankman-Fried, Ellison, and Wang, "left investors holding the bag," after FTT's collapse.
"Until crypto platforms comply with time-tested securities laws, risks to investors will persist. It remains a priority of the SEC to use all of our available tools to bring the industry into compliance," continued the SEC chair.
FTX remains in the bankruptcy process, with customers likely to wait months or years before seeing any partial or full return of funds.
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Disclaimer: Beginning in 2021, Michael McCaffrey, the former CEO and majority owner of The Block, took a series of loans from founder and former FTX and Alameda CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. McCaffrey resigned from the company in December 2022 after failing to disclose those transactions.
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