Billionaire Bill Ackman criticized the $250 million bond deal that allowed disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to live at his parents’ Bay Area home while awaiting federal trial on fraud charges.
The New York hedge fund manager, whose net worth was pegged by Forbes at $3.5 billion by dint of his ownership in Pershing Square Capital Management, tweeted that the bond deal is an indication of Bankman-Fried’s guilt since it apparently refutes his prior claims that he had no money left.
“I instinctually want to believe the best in people,” Ackman tweeted on Thursday. “When coupled with my strong belief that one is innocent until proven guilty, I can be at risk of trusting a crook.”
Bankman-Fried’s “posting $250m of bail is itself a criminal indictment and refutation of everything he has said to date,” Ackman wrote.
Ackman followed up with another tweet which read: “I just read the terms of the bail agreement.”
“The best one can say is that he has some very wealthy friends and family that believe in him, but with the guilty pleas and cooperation from his two colleagues, things are not looking good for @SBF_FTX,” Ackman tweeted.
Ackman was alluding to the guilty pleas of Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund Alameda Research, and FTX co-founder Gary Wang, who are now cooperating with federal prosecutors. They will likely provide incriminating evidence against Bankman-Fried in exchange for more lenient punishments for their respective roles in FTX’s bankruptcy.
In a subsequent tweet, Ackman compared Bankman-Fried to convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff, the former stock market whiz who ran a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that wiped out the life savings of thousands of investors.
Bankman-Fried, whose net worth was once valued as high as north of $26 billion during the peak of the cryptocurrency boom, told Axios weeks after his company imploded that he had just $100,000 in his bank account “last I checked.”
According to the terms of his bond, Bankman-Fried was released to the custody of his parents — Stanford law professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried — on bail.
The personal recognizance bond that allowed Bankman-Fried, who allegedly swindled investors out of billions and looted customer deposits, to avoid jail while awaiting trial was secured by equity in his parents’ home as well as their signatures, according to the Associated Press.
Nicolas Roos, the prosecutor who appeared in court for the bond hearing in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, also insisted that Bankman-Fried’s bond be secured by the signatures of two other “financially responsible people with considerable assets.”
That means that if Bankman-Fried were to flee before his Jan. 3 court hearing or anytime afterward, his parents and the other two individuals would be on the hook for a $250 million to the federal government.
Per the terms of his bond, which were apparently negotiated when Bankman-Fried dropped his bid to contest extradition to the US, the ex-mogul surrendered his passport and was also required to wear an ankle bracelet that would allow authorities to track his movements.
His bail conditions also require that he not open any new lines of credit, start a business or enter financial transactions larger than $1,000 without the approval of the government or the court.
Earlier this month, Ackman drew fire on social media when he tweeted on Nov. 30 that he thought Bankman-Fried was “telling the truth” when he denied knowingly committing fraud.
Ackman reacted to one of several interviews that Bankman-Fried granted following the collapse of FTX, including his notable sit-down with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times DealBook Summit.
But the billionaire hedge fund manager sought to clarify his position in the face of widespread criticism.
“I was in attendance at the @andrewrsorkin interview of @SBF_FTX and tweeted that I found SBF believable,” Ackman tweeted on Dec. 3.
“Many have interpreted my tweet to mean that I am defending SBF or somehow supporting him. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Ackman continued: “The @FTX_Official fiasco is, at a minimum, the most egregious, large-scale case of business gross negligence that I have observed in my career, and that conclusion is reinforced by SBF’s recent public statements.”
“If indeed he is telling the truth, it may make it more likely that he has civil rather than criminal liability.”
“I understand why the victims here want him to suffer the most severe consequences including jail time,” Ackman tweeted. “I would likely feel the same if I too was a victim.”
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