Two former top executives of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto trading empire have pleaded guilty to federal charges and are cooperating in the criminal case against the disgraced crypto entrepreneur, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said on Wednesday night.
The two are Caroline Ellison, who was the chief executive of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s crypto trading company, Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, a founder of the crypto exchange FTX.
The guilty pleas and cooperation agreements are a major advance in the fraud case against Mr. Bankman-Fried, who is in U.S. custody after agreeing to be extradited from the Bahamas earlier on Wednesday.
Mr. Bankman-Fried has been charged with orchestrating a multiyear fraud that diverted billions in customer money for other uses including buying real estate in the Bahamas, trading crypto at Alameda, making campaign donations and investing in other crypto companies. Prosecutors contend he defrauded customers, investors and lenders to his crypto trading firm, which was once one of the biggest in the world before it collapsed in bankruptcy last month.
The U.S. attorney, Damian Williams, also said Mr. Bankman-Fried was now in F.B.I. custody and being flown back to the United States on Wednesday night, and would be presented before a judge as soon as possible. He is expected to be taken into court as early as Thursday.
Lawyers for Ms. Ellison were not immediately available for comment. Ilan Graff, the lawyer for Mr. Wang, said, “Gary has accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness.”
A spokesman for Mr. Bankman-Fried declined to comment.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.