STORY: Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of a crypto-currency exchange accused of bilking investors and clients out of billions of dollars, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal fraud charges.
Prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars in customer deposits to support his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy real estate and make millions of dollars in political contributions.
He could face up to 115 years in prison if convicted.
Bankman-Fried founded the trading platform FTX.
The MIT graduate rode a boom in the value of bitcoin and other digital assets to build a net worth of an estimated $26 billion and become an influential political donor in the U.S.
But FTX collapsed in early November after a wave of withdrawals and declared bankruptcy on November 11, wiping out Bankman-Fried’s fortune.
He later said he had $100,000 in his bank account.
Bankman-Fried was extradited last month from the Bahamas, where he lived and where the exchange was based.
Since his release on a $250 million bond in late December, Bankman-Fried has been subject to electronic monitoring and required to live with his parents – both professors at Stanford Law School in California.
The prosecution case was strengthened by last month's guilty pleas of two of Bankman-Fried's closest associates.
FTX's new chief executive, John Ray, known for his work on energy company Enron Corp's bankruptcy, has said FTX was run by "grossly inexperienced" and unsophisticated people.