DoJ Seizes 55M Robinhood Shares Connected to Sam Bankman-Fried

  • The U.S. Department of Justice has seized close to $470 million in Robinhood stock, and an additional $20 million in U.S. currency, as part of its criminal case against Sam Bankman-Fried.
  • Lawyers for SBF argued last week that the Robinhood shares were bought legitimately by SBF, using money borrowed from Alameda, and that he was relying on them to fund his defense.

Former CEO of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the Federal Court in New York after pleading not guilty, 3 January, 2022.
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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.

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Sam Bankman-Fried Tries to Keep Ownership of $450M in Robinhood Shares
  • Lawyers for SBF are seeking to block debtors from taking control over $450 million in Robinhood shares, arguing that SBF was relying on his stake to fund his criminal defense.
  • Another argument was that SBF had legitimately bought the shares using money borrowed from Alameda Research, one of the few loans that was well documented in the company.
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  • Sam Bankman Fried pleaded not guilty to all eight charges against him during his first appearance in court this year, and his tril is now set to begin in early October.
  • The presiding judge has modified SBF’s bail conditions to include a prohibition from accessing or transferring assets of connected to FTX and its affiliates.