Caroline Ellison (left) pled guilty to various charges involving Sam Bankman-Fried’s (right) firms FTX and Alameda.
MARIO DUNCANSON / Contributor/ Getty Images/ Caroline Ellison’s Twitter
Alameda’s former CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX cofounder Gary Wang are in the SEC’s crosshairs.
They’ve copped to criminal charges and are cooperating with an ongoing criminal investigation.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the SEC’s parallel civil case against them.
Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Sam Bankman-Fried’s trading firm Alameda Research, was hit with criminal charges in New York, along with a civil complaint by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, on Wednesday.
The development confirmed speculation that Ellison — who is also Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend — and others in Bankman-Fried’s circle were working with federal prosecutors who are investigating FTX’s collapse.
US Attorney Damian Williams said on Wednesday that Ellison and FTX cofounder Gary Wang had pleaded guilty to various charges, including fraud, and are cooperating with the government.
The SEC’s allegations tell the story of Bankman-Fried’s control of Alameda, of which he owned 90%, and paints him as the mastermind of a scheme to bring large inflows of cash into the firm by leveraging FTX customer funds and manipulating trading of FTT tokens to boost its value.
Ellison and Wang, the agency alleges, were faithful deputies executing that vision.
Here are the biggest takeaways and allegations, according to the SEC’s complaint:
1. SBF was calling the shots. The SEC’s complaint often referred to Ellison taking steps based on “Bankman-Fried’s directions,” reiterating the agency’s earlier allegation that it was Bankman-Fried who orchestrated the apparent scheme.
2. Even as Alameda’s co-CEO, Ellison didn’t pull all the strings. The SEC alleged that, “though Ellison made some trading decisions, she frequently consulted with Bankman-Fried, particularly about strategic issues and significant trades.”
3. Still, Ellison and Wang perpetuated the alleged fraud of FTX’s investors and customers, according to the SEC.
4. When it came to investors, FTX raised $1.8 billion based on what the agency says are false reassurances by Bankman-Fried and others about strong risk protocols.
5. Ellison knew the risk protocols weren’t what SBF professed to investors.
6. The agency alleges all three defendants worked together to help Alameda Research, the separate firm founded by Bankman-Fried, enjoy “special treatment.” That gave the firm broad access to FTX customer funds — and Ellison knowingly traded at Alameda using that money. The agency claimed that this summer alone, they moved some “hundreds of millions” in FTX customer funds to Alameda.
7. Ellison also had Alameda borrow “billions of dollars” from lenders using FTT tokens as security. Ellison and Bankman-Fried then also worked to boost the value of those tokens so that Alameda could keep borrowing more.
8. As the deficits piled on, Ellison and Bankman-Fried continued to mislead investors.
9. The complaint largely painted Bankman-Fried as the one making allegedly fraudulent assurances to investors, but cast Ellison and Wang as loyal enablers.
10. The SEC repeated how Bankman-Fried used the alleged scheme for his own benefit, saying that “Bankman-Fried also used commingled funds from Alameda to make large political donations and to purchase tens of millions of dollars in Bahamian real estate for himself, his parents, and other FTX executives.” The agency added that Wang took some $200,000 “for his own purposes.”