Disgraced cryptocurrency tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried has been released on a $250m (£208m) bond package as he awaits fraud charges, the largest interim bond in the story.
The bond was signed by his parents, who agreed to keep him under house arrest at their home in Palo Alto, California, pending trial.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have accused him of stealing billions of dollars in client money to make up for losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Within a month, Bankman-Fried’s A £21 billion cryptocurrency empire has collapsed and he was accused of defrauding investors in the United States.
FTX was once one of the largest digital currency exchanges in the world, valued at $32 billion, but ended up filing for bankruptcy in three days.
Bankman-Fried oversaw a dramatic implosion which – almost exactly a month later – saw him arrested in the Bahamas.
He was not asked to enter a plea on Thursday. He previously admitted to risk management failures at FTX, but said he did not believe he had any criminal liability.
His attorney, Mark Cohen, declined to comment after the hearing in Manhattan federal court.
His arrest in the Bahamas, where he lived and where FTX is based, cemented the former billionaire’s dramatic downfall.
Cohen said he agreed with the bail conditions offered by prosecutors.
He noted that his parents – both professors at Stanford Law School – co-signed the bond and deposited the equity in their
house as insurance for Bankman-Fried’s return to court.
“My client stayed where he was, he made no effort to flee,” Cohen said.
Reunited with his parents and lawyers inside the court, a seemingly silent Bankman-Fried shook hands with a supporter before walking out, where photographers and video crews rushed him until he go by car.
Dressed in a gray suit and leg ties, Bankman-Fried sat surrounded by his lawyers and nodded when the judge informed him that if he did not show up for court, a warrant arrest would be issued against him.
He only spoke when asked by Gorenstein if he understood the terms of his release and that he could be charged with an additional crime if he did not appear in court.
“Yes, I do,” Bankman-Fried replied.
His next court date has been set for Jan. 3, 2023. Bankman-Fried also faces electronic surveillance and a ban on opening new credit lines or businesses.
He said Bankman-Fried had “gained sufficient notoriety that it was impossible for him” to hide without recognition or engage in other financial schemes.
Down to his ‘last $100,000’
Concerns about the mix of funds between FTX and the Bankman-Fried hedge fund first surfaced in November and led to a wave of client withdrawals.
On Nov. 11, the former “crypto king,” as many media dubbed him, said he was down to just $100,000.
Just hours after Bankman-Fried’s plane took off from the Bahamas, Damian Williams, the lead federal prosecutor in
Manhattan, announced that two of Bankman-Fried’s closest associates – former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang – have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.