Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is currently facing both civil and criminal fraud charges in the United States. The civil cases have been filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), while the criminal charges were brought forth by the Department of Justice. However, the civil cases against Bankman-Fried have now been temporarily put on hold by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel.
both civil cases (one from the SEC and one from the CFTC) have been stayed until the conclusion of the criminal trial against Sam Bankman-Fried https://t.co/3i28naGtnl— Molly White (@molly0xFFF) February 14, 2023
The reason for this stay order is that the outcome of the criminal case could potentially impact the civil lawsuits. Prosecutors believe that a delay in the civil proceedings makes sense and that the criminal case in October will have a “significant impact” on the civil cases. The same evidence is likely to be used in all three cases, and there is a risk that Bankman-Fried could use evidence from the civil cases to influence the outcome of the criminal case.
Bankman-Fried has been accused of mishandling customer funds, using clients’ assets to fund his own personal luxuries and properties. The SEC and CFTC filed civil fraud cases against him after FTX filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2022. Bankman-Fried has since pleaded not guilty to the criminal fraud charges and is currently on a $250 million bail, facing a maximum sentence of 115 years in prison if found guilty.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, filed a motion on February 7th, 2023, requesting that the civil cases be postponed until the conclusion of the criminal trial. Bankman-Fried and his counsel, as well as the counsel for the bankrupt estates of FTX and Alameda Research and their executives Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison, consented to the stay order.
In a related court development, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan extended Bankman-Fried’s ban on using encrypted messaging apps as part of his bail conditions until February 21st, 2023. Bankman-Fried’s legal team had previously negotiated a deal to use certain encrypted apps under supervision, but Judge Kaplan overruled this, expressing more concern about shutting down any encrypted communication than offering Bankman-Fried any convenience.
A U.S. judge extended a ban on FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried's ability to contact employees of companies he once controlled and use encrypted messaging technology while out on bail ahead of his trial on fraud charges https://t.co/L990rRv5qA 1/4 pic.twitter.com/79NiajxizS— Reuters Legal (@ReutersLegal) February 9, 2023
The civil cases against Sam Bankman-Fried have been postponed until after the conclusion of his criminal trial in October 2023. The outcome of the criminal case is likely to have a significant impact on the civil cases, which is why the stay order was granted. Bankman-Fried is facing serious charges and could face a substantial sentence if found guilty.