Caroline Ellison hires lawyer as feds probe Sam Bankman-Fried

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US prosecutors are reportedly assembling a potential fraud indictment against disgraced crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried — and speculation is growing that his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison could become a stool pigeon in the case.

Justice Department officials in the Southern District of New York are reportedly scrutinizing the alleged transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from the US to the Bahamas right around the time that his FTX cryptocurrency exchange filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to Bloomberg News.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also are probing whether Bankman-Fried manipulated crypto markets by orchestrating trades that led to the collapse of the TerraUSD cryptocurrency earlier this year, according to previous reports.

Meanwhile, Ellison, the ex-CEO of FTX’s sister hedge fund Alameda Research, reportedly was spotted grabbing coffee at a Soho eatery in Manhattan last week — and has hired Stephanie Avakian, a partner at white-shoe law firm Wilmer Hale who is the former enforcement division chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg reported separately.

The Post has sought comment from Wilmer Hale.

While Bankman-Fried has granted several interviews and frequently posted to social media in recent weeks, Ellison has stayed silent — leading some observers to believe she is seeking to cooperate with authorities.

Last month, Bankman-Fried unleashed a wild, wide-ranging interview in which he appeared to shift blame for FTX’s collapse onto Ellison — a 28-year-old, professed “Harry Potter” enthusiast who has tweeted about taking amphetamines. Bankman-Fried insisted in an interview with Vox reporter Kelsey Piper that his claim that FTX didn’t “invest client assets” was “factually accurate” because Alameda Research, not FTX, actually made the investments.

Bankman-Fried and Ellison were reportedly part of a group of 10 roommates who controlled operations at FTX and Alameda from a penthouse in the Bahamas. The group was said to be romantically entangled, with some online speculation that they were a “polycule,” or network of polyamorous relationships.

Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, has hired an attorney, sparking speculation that she will turn on her former lover, disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Twitter / @carolinecapital

FTX is said to have used billions of dollars in customer funds to cover debts incurred by Alameda Research, triggering a chain of events that led to its sudden implosion last month. On Nov. 11, several crypto observers noticed that some $663 million was suspiciously moved from digital wallets controlled by FTX to a fund run by Bahamian authorities.

The Securities Commission of the Bahamas released a statement on Nov. 17 saying it had ordered the transfer of funds to its own digital wallet “for safekeeping.”

Investigators are also examining whether FTX engaged in criminal behavior by using customer funds to cover debts incurred by Alameda Research, the sister analytics company that was also founded by Bankman-Fried, Bloomberg News reported.

Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, and Bankman-Fried’s spokesperson, Mark Botnick, both declined to comment.

In recent media interviews, Bankman-Fried denied knowingly committing fraud.

Bankman-Fried, who at one point was said to be worth $17 billion, quit as CEO of FTX after the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Bankman-Fried, who at one point was said to be worth $17 billion, quit as CEO of FTX after the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bankman-Fried has said he takes responsibility for FTX’s collapse and that he failed to grasp the amount of risk Bahamas-based FTX and Alameda were taking on across both businesses.

One of the accusations made against Bankman-Fried is that he arranged for Alameda to use customers’ assets in FTX to place bets in the market. Bankman-Fried has said in public interviews that he did not “knowingly” commingle customers’ assets with Alameda.

“I didn’t know exactly what was going on,” Bankman-Fried told the New York Times DealBook Summit last month.

“I learned a lot of these things as they were going on.”

In recent media interviews, Bankman-Fried denied knowingly committing fraud.
In recent media interviews, Bankman-Fried denied knowingly committing fraud.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last week, Bankman-Fried tweeted that he is willing to testify before Congress on Tuesday, but that he will be limited in what he can say and that he “won’t be as helpful” as he’d like to be.

The tweet came in response to several tweets earlier this month from House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who had requested that Bankman-Fried attend Tuesday’s hearings over the collapse of FTX.

Waters said in a series of tweets to Bankman-Fried that based on multiple media interviews since FTX collapsed, it was “clear to us that the information you have thus far is sufficient for testimony.”

FTX failed last month in what was essentially a cryptocurrency version of a bank run, when customers tried to withdraw their assets all at once because of growing doubts about the financial strength of the company and Alameda Research.

Justice Department officials are said to be scrutinizing suspicious transfers from FTX's US-based operations to the Bahamas around the time the company filed for Chapter 11.
Justice Department officials are said to be scrutinizing suspicious transfers from FTX’s US-based operations to the Bahamas around the time the company filed for Chapter 11.
Getty Images

Since its collapse, FTX’s new management has called the cryptocurrency exchange’s management a “complete failure of corporate controls.”

In a series of tweets to Waters, Bankman-Fried listed specific issues he would be able to discuss with the committee, including the solvency of FTX’s US business, its American customers and possible solutions for returning assets to international clients.

He also said he could talk about what he thinks led to the crash and “my own failings.”

In a TV interview just over 10 days ago, Bankman-Fried said he largely believed the US affiliate of FTX was entirely solvent and could start processing withdrawals at once.

As for the rest of FTX, which was significantly larger than the US division, he said the fate of customers’ funds was largely out of his control.

Bankman-Fried, who was once one of the richest people in the world on paper, now says he is getting by on a single credit card and likely has less than $100,000 to his name after FTX’s failure.

With Post wires


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