Bermuda Post

Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

'Crime' DOES pay! FTX 'fraudster' Sam Bankman-Fried relaxes at JFK lounge and on business class AA seat 'as he flies home to California after being freed on $250m bail over $1.8bn crypto scam'

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been pictured in the American Airlines business class lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport before flying to his parents' home at Palo Alto, California on Thursday. Bankman-Fried was later seen, without shoes, in business class seat on a AA flight
Disgraced Sam Bankman-Fried appears to be living a life of luxury, after pictures of him in an American Airlines lounge and business class seat emerged following his $250 million bond release.

Photos show the accused fraudster Bankman-Fried relaxing at JFK's American Airlines Flagship lounge and later, without shoes, in a business class seat on a AA flight.

The pictures, posted to social media on Friday show two snaps in the lounge with a caption saying that he was there 'with his parents, FBI and lawyers.'

The photos show Bankman-Fried sporting a casual dark grey shirt, suit pants and shoes that appear to not have laces, while working on a laptop computer.

Despite his casual look, the embattled financier, who claims to only have $100,000 enjoyed the luxury lounge which boasts a local chef, specialty cocktail bar, shower suites, wine table and personalized service.

Photos from the AA business class seat show the 30-year-old, wearing a black beanie with a cup of what appears to be orange juice by his side.

The FTX founder, who is known for his casual wardrobe, was clearly ready to relax on his flight back to his parent's Palo Alto home as he removed his shoes while speaking to a person beside him.

Bankman-Fried was released on a $250million bond, according to a deal struck on Thursday in a New York City courtroom.

He was arrested in the Bahamas last week on a range of fraud and money laundering charges for what prosecutors described as one of the biggest financial crimes in American history.

They allege that he used his crypto-trading platform as a 'personal piggy bank', convincing investors to park their billions with him only to funnel their assets into his own company.

His alleged scheme was revealed when FTX filed for bankruptcy in November.

A judge agreed to grant him bail - the 'largest pre-trial amount in US history' and 25 times the $10million posted by Bernie Madoff.

Four people including his parents and one other relative vouched for him.

The agreement is a recognizance bond signed by Bankman-Fried's parents and two other individuals with 'considerable' assets.

His parents guaranteed it using the equity of their home, but neither they nor the other parties are required to put up the full cash amount to secure his freedom.

Instead, they will be held liable if he fails to show up to court. SBF appeared in court shackled, wearing a dark suit and tie.

He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charges and the bail agreement.

The 30-year-old has been charged with a range of fraud and money laundering charges after allegedly stealing $1.8billion from his crypto-trading platform, FTX.

Federal prosecutors and investigators from the SEC said that he used the platform like a 'personal piggy bank' to fund his own lifestyle.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas last week and was extradited to New York where he appeared before a judge on Thursday.

His parents moral support for their son has been clear, after they were spotted at his penthouse soon after FTX's November 11 bankruptcy.

Prosecutors told the court that SBF committed fraud of 'epic proportions'. The judge agreed with the prosecution that the 'weight of the evidence was strong'.

One of the reasons he was confident in granting bond was SBF's newfound fame - he has 'achieved sufficient notoriety that it would be impossible' for him to hide, he said.

Another term of his bail agreement is wearing an electronic ankle monitor. He is banned from opening any new lines of credit, he must remain within the Northern District of California and must undergo mental health counseling after complaining of depression in previous proceedings.

He will return to court on January 3rd.

His parents, Barbara and Allan, accompanied him to court on Thursday and in the Bahamas. Barbara is said to have laughed every time the judge referred to her son as a fugitive.

According to a recent report by The Washington Free Beacon, the couple not only own their $4million home in Stanford, but also a vacation property in The Bahamas.

It's unclear how much they paid for the beachfront apartment, but it was part of a $121million portfolio purchased using funds from FTX, the report claimed.

He was due to testify before Congress about his failed business, and in leaked testimony claimed that he had just $100,000 to his name, but that he could make all his investors who lost money 'whole again'.

Bankman-Fried's ex-girlfriend and former CEO, Caroline Ellison, has entered a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid charges of her own.

She was facing 110 years in prison on seven tax violations and various counts of fraud, but prosecutors have agreed not to prosecute her on the most serious charges.

In exchange, she will cooperate with their ongoing investigation and will plead guilty to the less serious tax violations, which would see her saddled with a $250,000 fine.

On Thursday, Judge Jeanine Pirro claimed SBF may never face trial because two of his closest colleagues have already pleaded guilty - as she called him a 'dirty scumbag' and said he was worse than Bernie Madoff.
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