Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced former founder and CEO of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, was supposed to testify before certain House and Senate committees this week, as members of Congress had some serious questions for him to answer.
That won’t be happening now as it was announced on Monday that Bankman-Fried had been arrested in the Bahamas by local authorities at the request of the U.S. government, Breitbart reported.
The arrest of Bankman-Fried was announced Monday evening by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York.
“Earlier this evening, Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the U.S. Government, based on a sealed indictment filed by the SDNY. We expect to move to unseal the indictment in the morning and will have more to say at that time,” the federal prosecutor tweeted.
Charged with alleged fraud and conspiracy
Axios reported Tuesday that, as stated, the SDNY did unseal an indictment against Bankman-Fried and revealed that he has been charged with eight separate criminal counts.
Per the 14-page indictment, Bankman-Fried has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud on customers and lenders, as well as conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering, rounded out by a conspiracy charge to defraud the U.S. government and violate campaign finance laws.
Concurrent with that, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also announced that it had filed a civil complaint against Bankman-Fried which alleged that he worked to defraud investors of potentially more than $1 billion.
According to Axios, an attorney for the accused fraudster said in a statement, “Mr. Bankman-Fried is reviewing the charges with his legal team and considering all of his legal options.”
Why arrest him now, and not after he testified before Congress?
Axios further noted that the timing of the arrest and indictment of Bankman-Fried on the eve of scheduled congressional testimony has been viewed with suspicion by some, particularly Republicans, who were eager to ask him many pointed questions about his alleged fraud and partisan political donations that overwhelmingly favored Democratic politicians and organizations.
Among those was Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, who tweeted Monday night, “Tomorrow, Sam Bankman-Fried was scheduled to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee. @HouseGOP was ready to grill him six ways to Sunday. Now breaking tonight, SBF was just arrested! Why not allow him to 1st testify tomorrow and answer our many questions?”
Breitbart reported that House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) had all but politely begged, cajoled, and pleaded with Bankman-Fried to appear before the committee for testimony, though she declined to issue a subpoena and Bankman-Fried was initially noncommittal on appearing.
In fact, the New York Post reported that Bankman-Fried finally agreed during an interview on Monday to testify, albeit only remotely through a Zoom call, as he claimed to be “quite overbooked” and fearful of the “paparazzi” in Washington D.C. He also, as it turns out incorrectly, asserted, “I don’t think I will be arrested.”
“Unprecedented abdication of accountability”
Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the soft handling of Bankman-Fried by the Waters-led House committee, the Senate Financial Services Committee was not so pleasant with regard to the alleged fraudster’s efforts to avoid testifying on Wednesday before the senators.
In a bipartisan joint statement from the chairman and ranking member, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), they called him out for rejecting multiple offers to accommodate him and declared, “He has declined in an unprecedented abdication of accountability.”