Both Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang just pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange!
Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang Plead Guilty To FTX Fraud!
Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang – two close partners of Sam Bankman-Fried, plead guilty to criminal charges related to the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange. They are now helping investigators with their investigations, in exchange for reduced sentencing.
The charges, guilty pleas and their cooperation with investigators occurred earlier, but was kept quiet until Sam Bankman-Fried (better know as SBF) was safely on a flight to the US from the Bahamas after he agreed to voluntary extradition.
SBF landed in New York at 10 PM local time on December 21, and Southern District of New York attorney Damian Williams announced that Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang pleaded guilty to charges “related to their roles in the fraud that contributed to FTX’s collapse”.
As I said last week, this investigation is ongoing and moving very quickly. I also said last week’s announcement would not be our last and let me be clear once again, neither is today’s.
I’m announcing that SDNY has filed charges against Caroline Ellison […] and Gary Wang […] in connection with their roles in the frauds that contributed to FTX’s collapse. Both Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang have plead guilty to those charges and both are cooperating with the SDNY.
Caroline Ellison was the head of Alameda Research – the trading firm started by SBF, which allegedly had “a virtually unlimited line of credit” funded by FTX customers. A former Google employee and MIT graduate, Gary Wang co-founded FTX with Sam Bankman-Fried.
Ellison plead guilty to seven charges, which could result in up to 110 years of jail time. Gary Wang plead guilty to four charges. However, more charges could follow if investigators find evidence of other crimes.
Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang Also Faces SEC Charges
These criminal charges were paired with civil charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which accused Ellison, Wang and Sam Bankman-Fried of securities violations related to FTX’s cryptocurrency, FTT.
The SEC also noted that both Ellison and Wang are cooperating with its ongoing investigations.
Washington D.C., Dec. 21, 2022 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, and Zixiao (Gary) Wang, the former Chief Technology Officer of FTX Trading Ltd. (FTX), for their roles in a multiyear scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX, the crypto trading platform co-founded by Samuel Bankman-Fried and Wang. Investigations into other securities law violations and into other entities and persons relating to the alleged misconduct are ongoing.
According to the SEC’s complaint, between 2019 and 2022, Ellison, at the direction of Bankman-Fried, furthered the scheme by manipulating the price of FTT, an FTX-issued exchange crypto security token, by purchasing large quantities on the open market to prop up its price. FTT served as collateral for undisclosed loans by FTX of its customers’ assets to Alameda, a crypto hedge fund owned by Wang and Bankman-Fried and run by Ellison. The complaint alleges that, by manipulating the price of FTT, Bankman-Fried and Ellison caused the valuation of Alameda’s FTT holdings to be inflated, which in turn caused the value of collateral on Alameda’s balance sheet to be overstated, and misled investors about FTX’s risk exposure.
In addition, the complaint alleges that, from at least May 2019 until November 2022, Bankman-Fried raised billions of dollars from investors by falsely touting FTX as a safe crypto asset trading platform with sophisticated risk mitigation measures to protect customer assets and by telling investors that Alameda was just another customer with no special privileges; meanwhile, Bankman-Fried and Wang improperly diverted FTX customer assets to Alameda. The complaint alleges that Ellison and Wang knew or should have known that such statements were false and misleading.
The complaint also alleges that Ellison and Wang were active participants in the scheme to deceive FTX’s investors and engaged in conduct that was critical to its success. The complaint alleges that Wang created FTX’s software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds, and Ellison used misappropriated FTX customer funds for Alameda’s trading activity. The complaint further alleges that, even as it became clear that Alameda and FTX could not make customers whole, Bankman-Fried, with the knowledge of Ellison and Wang, directed hundreds of millions of dollars more in FTX customer funds to Alameda.
The SEC is calling for a civil penalty, and a ban for Ellison and Wang to ever serve as a company director or officer, as well as “disgorgement of their ill-gotten gains”, and an injunction against future securities violations and limiting them to only buy and sell securities for their own accounts.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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