When Mr. Bankman-Fried started FTX, his parents were enthusiastic supporters. Mr. Bankman was an employee for 11 months, focusing on the company’s charitable work. Both parents were present in court on Thursday — Ms. Fried, dressed in all black, and Mr. Bankman with an emotionless expression.
The plea deals of the two former FTX executives, Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang, significantly strengthen the case against Mr. Bankman-Fried. Mr. Wang and Ms. Ellison were part of his tight-knit inner circle in the Bahamas. They lived with Mr. Bankman-Fried in a luxury penthouse with seven other roommates, and Ms. Ellison and Mr. Bankman-Fried have dated at times.
Ms. Ellison28, became the chief executive of Alameda after Mr. Bankman-Fried started FTX. Mr. Wang, 29, helped Mr. Bankman-Fried found Alameda and FTX, before serving as the exchange’s chief technology officer. The charges against the two were “in connection with their roles in the frauds that contributed to FTX’s collapse,” said Mr. Williams, the U.S. attorney.
“The cooperation deals make it significantly harder for Bankman-Fried to argue that he didn’t know what was going on at FTX,” Rebecca Roiphe, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan who teaches law at New York Law School.
Mr. Wang and Ms. Ellison also agreed to settle civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Both agencies are pursuing cases against Mr. Bankman-Fried.
The S.E.C. complaint against Ms. Ellison and Mr. Wang provides one of the most detailed accounts to date of the alleged fraud at FTX, claiming that the two cooperators were intimately involved in a scheme dating back to the company’s founding in 2019.
In 2019 and 2020, the complaint said, Mr. Bankman-Fried instructed Mr. Wang and other FTX engineers to write software code that effectively allowed Alameda to borrow an unlimited amount of money from FTX. That software loophole was the technological basis for Alameda to misuse billions of dollars in FTX customers funds, the complaint claims.