FTX founder Bankman-Fried living on bread and water, lawyer says

FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried, wearing prison clothing, stands between his attorneys Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell in Manhattan federal court.Reuters

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is “subsisting on bread and water” in prison, according to his lawyer.

The prison he is being held in ahead of his trial has not provided a vegan diet he requested, his lawyer says.

Last year, Mr Bankman-Fried was charged with fraud after the failure of FTX.

During the court hearing in New York on Tuesday Mr Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges contained in a new indictment.

The former billionaire’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, said a lack of adequate food was hampering his client’s ability to prepare for his trial, which is scheduled to start in October.

Mr Cohen also said Mr Bankman-Fried had not been provided with the attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) drug Adderall and that his supply of the medication Emsam to treat depression was running low.

Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said she would ask the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons, which runs the jail, to address the issues with Mr Bankman-Fried’s medication.

She was “reasonably confident” the facility offered vegetarian food, but was not sure whether vegan food was available, Judge Netburn added.

The Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that inmates had access to “appropriate” healthcare, medicine and hot meals.

Mr Bankman-Fried, who was formerly nicknamed “The King of Crypto”, was led into court wearing leg restraints and a beige prison uniform.

It was his first appearance since his bail was revoked on 11 August, after US District Judge Lewis Kaplan found he had tampered with witnesses at least twice.

The new indictment charged Mr Bankman-Fried with seven counts of fraud and conspiracy over the collapse of FTX in November 2022.

However, it no longer charges him with conspiring to violate US campaign finance laws.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr Bankman-Fried has acknowledged that FTX had inadequate risk management but has denied stealing the funds.

FTX was once the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange and valued at $32bn (£25bn).

It filed for bankruptcy protection on 11 November, which sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency market.

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