(NEW YORK) — Nishad Singh, former director of engineering at FTX, the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to criminal charges, according to his lawyers and federal prosecutors in New York.
Singh agreed to plead guilty to six counts of fraud and conspiracy contained in information unsealed Tuesday, becoming the third member of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle to admit guilt and cooperate with federal prosecutors as they build a case against those believed responsible for what U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has called one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.
“Today’s guilty plea underscores once again that the crimes at FTX were vast in scope and consequence,” Williams said in a statement. “They rocked our financial markets with a multibillion dollar fraud. And they corrupted our politics with tens of millions of dollars in illegal straw campaign contributions. These crimes demand swift and certain justice and that is exactly what we are seeking in the Southern District of New York.”
Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s privately controlled hedge fund, and Gary Wang, co-founder of FTX, have also pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to assist the government’s prosecution. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts and prosecutors recently added an additional four counts.
Singh contributed to the fraud that led to the $32 billion bankruptcy of FTX by providing “misleading information to auditors about FTX’s revenue,” knowing that information would be given to prospective investors, according to the information.
Singh was also part of the conspiracy to make political contributions to candidates and committees that were paid for using funds from Bankman-Fried’s privately controlled hedge fund, Alameda Research, but reported to the Federal Election Commission under different names, the information said.
“Nishad is deeply sorry for his role in this and has accepted responsibility for his actions,” Singh’s lawyers, Andrew D. Goldstein and Russell Capone, said in a statement to ABC News. “He wants to do everything he can to make things right for victims, including by assisting the government to the best of his ability in this case.”
In exchange for his cooperation, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence below the 75-year maximum attached to the charges, according to the plea agreement also unsealed Tuesday.
Prosecutors agreed to Singh’s release on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed separate, civil charges against Singh.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Singh created software code that allowed FTX customer funds to be diverted to Alameda Research despite false assurances by Bankman-Fried to investors that FTX was a safe crypto asset trading platform with sophisticated risk mitigation measures to protect customer assets and that Alameda was just another customer with no special privileges. The complaint alleges that Singh knew or should have known that such statements were false and misleading.
The complaint also alleges that Singh was an active participant in the scheme to deceive FTX’s investors and, as FTX neared collapse, Singh withdrew approximately $6 million from FTX for personal use and expenditures, including the purchase of a multimillion-dollar house and donations to charitable causes.
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