Sam Bankman-Fried won an upgrade from his Bahamas prison cell after posting bail following his extradition to the U.S. on Wednesday., where he faces charges for what prosecutors called “fraud of epic proportions.”
Bankman-Fried, the founder of the now collapsed FTX cryptocurrency empire, made his first appearance in a Manhattan court on Thursday, where he faces a raft of charges, including money laundering, related to the bankruptcy of dozens of companies under his control.
U.S. prosecutor Nicolas Roos called the US$ 250 million bail package the “largest ever pretrial bond,” telling U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein that it requires Bankman-Fried to surrender his passport and to remain under house arrest at his parents’ residency in California, according to court reporting from Reuters.
He is required to undergo regular mental health treatment and evaluation.
Bankman-Fried, 30, arrived in the U.S. just one night before the hearing after agreeing to extradition from the Bahamas, where he and most of his FTX empire was based.
He had been held in a Bahamian jail since Dec. 12 at the request of U.S. prosecutors who accuse him of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds, which were allegedly transferred to his brokerage and hedge fund arm Alameda Research to cover losses.
Bankman-Fried faces eight federal charges, including money laundering, wire fraud, and securities fraud, charges which could put him behind bars for decades.
As the FBI escorted Bankman-Fried from the Bahamas on Wednesday night, two of his former top-ranking associates pleaded guilty to charges that included wire fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud.
Those defendants – former chief executive of Alameda Research Carolyn Ellison, 28, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang, 29, – are said to be cooperating with prosecutors.
In Thursday’s hearing, prosecutor Roos said that evidence at Bankman-Fried’s trial would consist of testimony from “multiple cooperating witnesses” and thousands of pages of written communications.
Criminal prosecutors may offer plea bargains or deals to certain FTX defendants in exchange for cooperation and evidence, Richard Levin, chair of fintech and regulation practice at the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, told Forkast News in a November interview.
Court filings in the FTX bankruptcy case recently revealed that Ryan Salame, the former co-CEO of a Bahamian FTX affiliate, was an early whistleblower to Bahamian authorities on FTX’s transfer of client funds to Alameda.
Salame is amongst several other key FTX and Alameda executives yet to be publicly charged in the FTX proceedings. The group includes former Alameda co-CEO Sam Trabucco and Former FTX Director of Engineering Nishad Singh.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gorenstein set Bankman-Fried’s next court date for Jan. 3, 2023.