Two former associates of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded guilty to charges the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed against them Wednesday as part of a multiyear scheme to defraud investors.
Former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, 28, and former Chief Technology Officer of FTX Trading LTD Zixiao (Gary) Wang, 29, secretly pleaded guilty to charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.
Wang also co-founded FTX alongside Bankman-Fried.
“They are both cooperating with the Southern District of New York,” US Attorney Damian Williams said Wednesday night, referencing Ellison and Wang.
FTX FOUNDER SAM BANKMAN-FRIED LANDS IN NEW YORK FOLLOWING EXTRADITION FROM BAHAMAS
Damian said further criminal charges against others were possible.
The surprise guilty pleas came just hours after the charges were initially announced and around the same time that Bankman-Fried landed in New York after he was extradited from the Bahamas.
His extradition comes amid criminal charges US law enforcement brought against him tied to his role in FTX’s failure. He was expected to appear in a federal court in New York City on Thursday.
FTX FOUNDER SAM BANKMAN-FRIED AGREES TO BE EXTRADITED TO US, WHERE HE FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES
Bankman-Fried faces multiple criminal charges from the Southern District of New York and the SEC, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission and commit campaign finance violations.
His extradition to the US was ordered by a Bahamas judge and was agreed to by the 30-year-old suspect as part of a “desire to make the relevant customers whole,” Reuters reported. He is expected to appear in a federal court in New York City on Thursday.
The charges against Ellison and Wang were not made publicly known until after Bankman-Fried departed from the Bahamas.
WHAT BANKMAN-FRIED’S ATTORNEYS WILL LIKELY ARGUE IN HIS DEFENSE
On Dec 19, Ellison and Wang signed plea agreements in exchange for a promise of a reduced sentence, should they cooperate fully in the investigation.
Without such a deal in place, Ellison could face up to 110 years in prison. Wang could get up to 50 years.
FTX, once a premier cryptocurrency exchange, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November along with Alameda Research, West Real Series and 130 affiliated companies following FTX’s public collapse.
Prosecutors argue Bankman-Fried illegally siphoned customer deposits from the FTX platform to bolster his personal wealth and to enable Alameda’s trading, buy real estate and make huge campaign donations to US politicians.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.