Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried will enter a plea next week in a Manhattan federal court, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Court records seen by Reuters disclosed that Bankman-Fried is expected to be arraigned on the afternoon of Jan. 3 before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan.
At that time, SBF could enter a plea of guilty, which could lead to a negotiation with prosecutors, or not guilty, which would mean choosing to fight the charges against him in a trial.
Bankman-Fried faces criminal charges for his actions in defrauding investors of crypto exchange FTX, including misappropriating customer funds by loaning them to his quantitative trading firm Alameda Research.
According to former federal prosecutor Ian McGinley, if SBF chooses to plead guilty, a favorable plea deal for the FTX founder is extremely unlikely. McGinley, who served as an assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York, told CoinDesk that, since he was the head of FTX, the buck stopped with Bankman-Fried, lowering the chances of any leniency towards his sentencing.
In his view, the real “game changer” was testimony from Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang.
“Now you have two people – two insiders – who were with him, presumably during all of the pivotal moments at stake in the case saying ‘We conspired with others, presumably Sam Bankman-Fried, and we intentionally did something wrong,’” he said.
Ellison’s guilty plea in particular states that she and Bankman-Fried knowingly misled investors with financial statements that were prepared to disguise the nature of Alameda’s account on FTX.
“While I was co-CEO and then CEO, I understood that Alameda had made numerous large illiquid venture investments and had lent money to Mr. Bankman-Fried and other FTX executives,” said Ellison in a court room earlier this month.