Former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and are cooperating in the Justice Department's investigation of the former FTX CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Damian Williams made the announcement on Dec. 22, emphasizing that this latest major development is unlikely to be the last.
“As I said last week, this investigation is ongoing and moving very quickly. I also said last week's announcement would not be our last and let me be clear once again, neither is today's,” he said, adding that:
“I'm announcing that SDNY has filed charges against Caroline Ellison […] and Gary Wang […] in connection with their roles in the frauds that contributed to FTX's collapse. Both Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang have plead guilty to those charges and both are cooperating with the SDNY.”
Williams also confirmed that SBF is now in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is “on his way back to the United States” where he will be transported directly to the Southern District of New York to appear before a judge “as soon as possible.”
Williams also used the statement to send a stark warning to anyone that may have participated in misconduct at FTX or Alameda:
“Now is the time to get ahead of it. We are moving quickly and our patience is not eternal.”
In a separate action, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Dec. 21 that it has charged Ellison and Wang for their rules in a "multiyear scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX," adding that it is also investigating other securities law violations and into other entities and persons relating to the misconduct as well.
The SEC noted that both Ellison and Wang are cooperating with its ongoing investigations as well.
SBF was officially handed over from Bahamian custody to U.S. authorities on Dec. 21 after he waived his right to a formal extradition process that could have taken weeks. His lawyer claimed that SBF wanted to speed up the process as he is currently driven to “put the customers right.”
Meanwhile, Ellison's recent guilty plea and cooperation with the SDNY may be unsurprising for some, given that she was reportedly spotted at a coffee shop just a short walk away from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the New York FBI office on Dec. 5.
Update Dec. 22, 4:33 am UTC: Added information about SEC's separate charges against Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang.