Software engineer helped put Sam Bankman-Fried behind bars, say prosecutors

CTO shared code from his laptop with investigation after FTX collapsed

Crypto-crook Sam Bankman-Fried's conviction was expedited by the cooperation of the chief software engineer at his FTX crypto exchange, prosecutors have revealed.

The former darling of the cryptocurrency world was sentenced to 25 years behind bars last week in what has been described as one of the largest cases of corporate fraud in US history.

Help from FTX co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang was a key part in speeding up the case, according to Assistant US Attorney Thane Rehn, one of the team who led the prosecution.

Wang's assistance was vital in helping investigators understand how Bankman-Fried effectively stole billions in customer funds from the FTX exchange, according to Reuters. This involved moving funds to trading outfit Alameda Research, also founded by Bankman-Fried.

"Without that [assistance], would we have found it? Probably," Rehn said. "But it would have taken a software expert weeks or even months."

Wang shared code from his laptop with the prosecution team shortly after FTX collapsed. In his testimony, he told the court that Bankman-Fried asked him to make changes to the code underpinning FTX's operations to allow Alameda to withdraw unlimited funds from the exchange.

Alameda used the funds to make bets that failed to pay off. When this was uncovered, customers started trying to withdraw their money from FTX, which drove the company into bankruptcy.

Rehn highlighted the importance of the government's three main cooperating witnesses. This included Wang, former FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh, and former chief executive of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison. All of these pleaded guilty to fraud and testified against Bankman-Fried during the trial.

The prosecution team is likely to recommend that the trial judge takes the cooperation of Wang, Singh, and Ellison into account when sentencing them.

There is no guarantee of this, given that they did not report any of the wrongdoing until investigators looked into FTX's collapse, and that Wang at least is reported to have admitted committing financial crimes while working at the company.

Bankman-Fried is expected to appeal, and has denied deliberately committing crimes, instead telling ABC News that FTX's insolvency was the result of "bad decisions" he made.

The affair has had a knock-on effect on the wider cryptocurrency industry, especially services that did business with FTX, leading some of them to also go bust. ®

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