Feb 17, 2023
Nishad Singh, a Top Bankman-Fried Associate, Nears Plea Deal in FTX Probe
(Bloomberg) -- Another former member of Sam Bankman-Fried’s inner circle is planning to plead guilty to US criminal charges over his role in an alleged multiyear fraud at collapsed crypto exchange FTX.
Nishad Singh has been hammering out a deal with Manhattan prosecutors as they prepare to file fraud charges against him, according to people familiar with the matter. Such an agreement could involve cooperating with authorities and further isolate Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty to an eight-count indictment and is awaiting trial. The deal with Singh still has to be finalized.
The Manhattan federal prosecutors’ office declined to comment, as did Andrew D. Goldstein, Singh’s lawyer. Two of Bankman-Fried’s other former top associates, Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison, pleaded guilty last year to charges in connection to their roles at FTX and Alameda Research and are working with prosecutors. A representative for Bankman-Fried declined to comment.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the top US market regulators, are also planning to sue Singh over his role in the alleged scheme, said one of the people, who asked not to be named discussing the developments which haven’t been made public. Representatives for the CFTC and SEC declined to comment.
The ongoing, sprawling investigation into November’s spectacular collapse of FTX is one of the highest-profile corporate crime cases in US history. Officials have alleged that Bankman-Fried orchestrated a yearslong scam, which involved misleading investors and misusing billions of dollars of FTX customer funds for personal expenses and risky bets at Alameda, the trading firm affiliated with the crypto exchange.
As head of engineering, Singh played a major role in the day-to-day operations at FTX. He also had a close personal relationship with Bankman-Fried, living with him in a Bahamas penthouse. Singh was hired at Alameda in 2017 before establishing FTX two years later with Wang and Bankman-Fried. Singh helped write the software that the exchange was built on and contributed to the launch of FTX US in 2020.
If he were to cooperate with authorities, Singh could possibly offer insight into the campaign finance side of FTX, a dynamic that US officials have been looking into. Bankman-Fried’s indictment accused him of violating campaign finance laws.
Singh has given more than $9.3 million to Democratic candidates and committees since 2020, according to filings. In the last election cycle, he shelled out $8 million alone. Among the largest recipients was Mind The Gap, a political action committee founded by Bankman-Fried’s mother that received $1 million from Singh in April 2021. Singh also received hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Alameda Research, according to bankruptcy court filings.
In January, Singh attended a so-called proffer session with Manhattan prosecutors. At such meetings, individuals are usually granted a limited immunity to share what they know with prosecutors. A proffer session doesn’t automatically lead to a cooperation agreement.
--With assistance from Austin Weinstein.
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