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Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang: FTX co-founder and former head of hedge fund Alameda Research plead guilty to multiple charges, cooperates with feds






CNN

Two top executives linked to collapsed crypto exchange FTX have pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges and are cooperating with federal prosecutors, according to unsealed court records. In addition, the couple faces civil fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission that were announced Wednesday night.

Gary Wang, the co-founder of FTX, and Caroline Ellison, who served as CEO of hedge fund Alameda Research, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud for their roles in the fraud scheme that led to the collapse of the crypto trading platform.

Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the charges in a video message Wednesday night. In a brief statement, he reiterated that the investigation is still ongoing, noting specifically that these new allegations in the case are not the last.

Ilan Graff, a lawyer for Wang, said: “Gary has accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness.” Wang has already appeared in court for his confession.

Ellison’s attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

The charges were unsealed as Sam Bankman-Fried was on his way to the United States from the Bahamas, where he was arrested last week on an eight-count indictment for what Williams called one of the largest financial frauds in American history. Bankman-Fried waived his right to contest extradition on Wednesday and boarded a flight to the United States in the early evening.

Bankman-Fried is expected to appear before a Manhattan judge on Thursday. Prosecutors and his lawyers have been in discussions about a bail package that would allow him to avoid custody, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

Wang co-founded FTX with Bankman-Fried in 2019 and also worked with him at his hedge fund Alameda Research. Ellison became CEO of Alameda in October 2021, according to court documents.

The prosecutor claims that Bankman-Fried was involved in several fraudulent schemes. Among them, they allege that Bankman-Fried stole money from FTX customers to support Alameda, made investments in other companies, bought luxury real estate and donated tens of millions of dollars to political campaigns.

In letters dated Sunday, December 18 and signed the next day, Ellison and Wang agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

Ellison pleaded guilty to seven counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. She is charged with the same crimes as Bankman-Fried, except for the campaign finance charges.

Wang has agreed to plead guilty to four counts: wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodity fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

“As I said last week, this investigation is very ongoing and it’s moving very quickly,” Williams said. “I also said that last week’s announcement would not be our last, and let me be clear, once again, neither would today’s.”

Federal regulators also accused Ellison and Wang of playing leading roles in a year-long scheme to defraud FTX investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Ellison and Wang actively participated in a “scheme to defraud” investors. Between 2019 and 2022, Ellison manipulated the price of FTT, FTX’s security token, “at the direction of” Bankman-Fried, regulators alleged. The SEC said this manipulation was carried out by buying large quantities of FTT on the open market to prop up the price.

Regulators say this alleged manipulation inflated Alameda’s holdings, overstated the hedge fund’s balance sheet and “misled” investors about FTX’s risk exposure.

“When FTT and the rest of the house of cards collapsed, Mr. Bankman-Fried, Ellison and Wang left investors holding the bag,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a statement.

Wang created FTX’s source code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX client funds and Ellison used misappropriated funds for the hedge fund’s trading activity, according to the SEC.

“Ellison and Wang were active participants in the scheme to defraud FTX’s investors and engaged in conduct essential to its success,” the SEC said in a press release.



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