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On Monday, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the founder of the failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange, was arrested in the Bahamas. The Bahamian government said in a press release that SBF’s arrest “followed receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges” against Bankman-Fried and will most likely seek to extradite him back to the States.
SBF has been under investigation by the Justice Department in connection with the collapse and November bankruptcy of FTX, his cryptocurrency company once worth $32 billion.
The New York Times reports that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York confirmed the charges. Prosecutors went on to say we can expect an indictment to be made public Tuesday. According to the NYT’s sources, SBF faces a laundry list of charges including wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering.
If this is true then I wasn’t a member of that inner circle
(I’m quite sure it’s just false; I have never heard of such a group)
— SBF (@SBF_FTX) December 12, 2022
News of SBF’s arrest came shortly after he responded on Twitter to a report by the Australian Financial Review that a group connected to the leadership of FTX created a Signal chat group called “Wirefraud” which they used to exchange confidential information about the company’s operations prior to its implosion. “If this is true then I wasn’t a member of that inner circle,” Bankman-Fried tweeted at an account linking to the AFR article, adding, “(I’m quite sure it’s just false; I have never heard of such a group).”
The Times quoted Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who said in a statement that “Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the U.S. government, based on a sealed indictment,” and that his office expects “to move to unseal the indictment in the morning and will have more to say at that time.
FTX’s demise began after an early November surge in withdrawal requests revealed a $8 billion hole the company’s accounts. SBF asked for help from the Binance cryptocurrency exchange, and it initially looked like Binance might follow through — but once the larger exchange scrutinized FTX’s financial situation, the agreement failed to materialize.
Sam Bankman-Fried was scheduled to testify remotely on Tuesday before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. It’s safe to say that the hearing is likely to be postponed.