Former CEO of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the Federal Court in New York after pleading not guilty, 3 January, 2022.
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has seized the close to $470 million in Robinhood shares owned by former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and co-founder Gary Wang, court documents dated 6 January show.
According to the court filing, the 55 million Robinhood shares were seized from an account at brokerage firm ED&F Man as they “constitute property involved in violations” such as money laundering and wire fraud. The DoJ also noted that it had taken control of more than $20 million in fiat from the same account. The court document reads:
“The United States has seized 55,273,469 shares of the stock of Robinhood Markets Inc. and $20,746,713.67 in United States currency from an account at ED&F Man Capital Markets Inc. The seizures were effected pursuant to criminal statutes as well as civil statutes, because the Seized Assets constitute property involved in violations of money laundering and/or the proceeds of violations of wire fraud, or property traceable thereto.”
A lawyer for the DoJ warned on 4 January that the agency was in the process of seizing hundreds of millions of dollars in assets tied to FTX and SBF, including the 55 million Robinhood shares. Only a day later, lawyers for SBF argued that the shares were legitimately bought by SBF and Wang — using money borrowed from Alameda Research — and that the former FTX CEO was relying on his stake in Robinhood to fund his criminal defense.
Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas on 12 December, and was extradited to the U.S. on 22 December, where he is facing eight counts of financial and elections fraud. The disgraced CEO — who pleaded not guilty to all charges on 3 January — has been accused of orchestrating a years-long scheme to defraud investors in the now bankrupt FTX exchange.