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Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty, asks that bail signatories remain secret

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(Kitco News) - Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried appeared in person before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday afternoon to enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ on the eight criminal counts he faces, confirming earlier reports of his legal team’s intentions.

On Tuesday morning, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers also submitted a letter to the court requesting that the identities of the two additional signatories to his bail, which must be completed by January 5, not be made public. “The presumption of access here is vastly outweighed by the privacy and safety interests implicated by the documents at issue,” they wrote.

Bankman-Fried was granted bail following his first appearance before a U.S. judge on Dec. 22. He was released on a $250 million bail bond and has been confined to his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.

Judge Kaplan was assigned to the case after Ronnie Abrams, the judge originally selected to preside over the trial, was forced to recuse herself when it emerged that her husband's law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell had advised FTX in 2021 when SBF was still CEO.

FTX and Alameda Research, together with around 130 other corporate entities, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 11. Bankman-Fried also submitted his resignation at that time, with John Ray III being appointed as the new CEO of FTX Group.

On Dec.12, the Justice Department announced that they were charging Bankman-Fried with multiple crimes including wire fraud, commodities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations, the penalties for which could total 115 years in prison.

Former FTX and Alameda senior executives Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison have already pled guilty to fraud and are cooperating with authorities. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams posted a brief video announcement on Dec. 21 announcing the guilty pleas by Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, and Wang, who co-founded FTX with Sam Bankman-Fried.

“Both Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang have pled guilty to [fraud] charges, and they are both cooperating with the Southern District of New York,” Williams said.

Bankman-Fried's trial is now scheduled to begin in early October.

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