NEW YORK (AP) — A former FTX executive pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy and wire fraud charges as part of a deal to cooperate with federal prosecutors building their case against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried in what authorities have dubbed one of the biggest frauds in history.
The plea by Nishad Singh, formerly the cryptocurrency company’s engineering director, raises to three the number of people who prosecutors say have pleaded guilty in connection with the case.
The charges against Singh, 27, carry potential penalties of up to 75 years in prison if he fails to fully cooperate, including by testifying at any trials.
Singh’s plea “underscores once again that the crimes at FTX were vast in scope and consequence,” U.S. Attorney Damian 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,” he said. “These crimes demand swift and certain justice and that is exactly what we are seeking in the Southern District of New York.”
Last week, prosecutors filed new fraud charges against Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty in the case. The fresh charges raised the number of years Bankman-Fried could face in prison to 155 years from 115 and described in detail a fraud that the government alleges occurred from 2019 until last November.
Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial while living with his parents in Palo Alto, California, after signing a $250 million personal recognizance bond.
He is accused of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits to support the company he founded, a global cryptocurrency exchange affiliated with the cryptocurrency trading hedge fund Alameda Research.
He also was charged with illegally funding speculative venture investments and misdirecting customer deposits to make charitable donations, along with spending tens of millions of dollars on illegal campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to buy influence over cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.
On the same December day Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas to face charges in New York City, prosecutors announced that two of his associates had pleaded guilty and forged their own deals to cooperate with prosecutors. Carolyn Ellison, Alameda Research’s former chief executive; and Gary Wang, an FTX cofounder, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.