NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, has requested a U.S. judge to dismiss criminal charges against him relating to the collapse of the exchange. Bankman-Fried has consistently denied any wrongdoing or stealing from FTX customers.
In a recent filing in the Manhattan federal court, Bankman-Fried’s legal team argued that several charges did not properly outline an offense. The 31-year-old former billionaire has been under house arrest at his parents’ home since his December apprehension in the Bahamas, where he lived, and where FTX was based. He was extradited to the United States just over a week after his arrest.
FTX experienced a rapid downfall following a wave of customer withdrawals in response to reports that the exchange had mixed its assets with Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s crypto-focused hedge fund.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have accused Bankman-Fried of misappropriating billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to cover Alameda’s losses, purchase real estate, and make political contributions through an illegal straw-donor scheme. He is also charged with bribing Chinese officials.
Prosecutors have until May 29 to respond to Bankman-Fried’s request for dismissal. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan will hear arguments on June 15.
Bankman-Fried’s wealth, which was largely based on the surge of bitcoin and other digital assets, was estimated at $26.5 billion by Forbes magazine. However, his fortune dwindled significantly when FTX collapsed in November.
The MIT graduate has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of fraud and conspiracy. While he admits that FTX had inadequate risk management, he denies any theft of funds and has attempted to distance himself from the exchange’s daily operations.
Three former close associates – ex-Alameda co-CEO Caroline Ellison, former FTX technology chief Gary Wang, and former FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh – have all pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for October 2. His parents, who are Stanford University law professors and reside in Palo Alto, California, co-signed his $250 million bond.
Bankman-Fried’s access to technology has been restricted, as prosecutors warned he might tamper with witnesses.
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