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Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty in FTX fraud case; October trial set

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NEW YORK: Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty on Tuesday (Jan 3) to criminal charges that he cheated investors in his now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange and caused billions of dollars in losses in what prosecutors have called an epic fraud.The 30-year-old defendant entered his plea to eight criminal counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering and violate campaign finance laws, before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan federal court.Bankman-Fried is accused of looting FTX customer deposits to support his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy real estate and make millions of dollars in political contributions."Customer funds were also used and laundered through political donations, charitable donations and a variety of venture investments," Danielle Sassoon, a federal prosecutor, said at the hearing.

She accused Bankman-Fried of "lulling FTX customers with false information" that their assets were safe after the exchange collapsed.Sassoon suggested that the government has a deep well of evidence against Bankman-Fried, saying prosecutors plan to turn over hundreds of thousands of documents in coming weeks so the defence can prepare for trial.

The government has already won guilty pleas from two former top associates of Bankman-Fried's, who are cooperating with prosecutors and may testify at trial.Kaplan set an Oct 2 trial date.

Sassoon estimated that a trial could take four weeks, though Bankman-Fried's lawyer said he expected it to last two to three weeks.It is common for criminal defendants to initially plead not guilty.

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