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FTX Founder Bankman-Fried Faces Harsh Jail Conditions and Fraud Charges

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, is currently battling not just legal woes in federal court but also inadequate living conditions in jail, where he is allegedly subsisting on bread and water due to a lack of a vegan diet.

Sam Bankman-Fried
Sam Bankman-Fried

Jail Life: FTX's Bankman-Fried Living on Bread and Water

FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried is "subsisting on bread and water" because the federal jail where he is being held has not provided him with a vegan diet as he requested, according to his lawyer on Tuesday. His lawyer also claims that a lack of medication is hampering his ability to prepare for his upcoming trial in October.

Not Guilty Plea and Appearance in Court

On Tuesday, 31-year-old Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges in Manhattan federal court. Wearing leg restraints and a beige-colored uniform, he made his first appearance since his bail was revoked on August 11, when he was found to have tampered with witnesses.

The Charges: Fraud and Conspiracy

A new indictment, returned on August 14, charged Bankman-Fried with seven counts of fraud and conspiracy following the November 2022 collapse of FTX. Accused of stealing billions in customer funds to cover hedge fund losses, he has acknowledged inadequate risk management but denied stealing funds.

The indictment's complexity was deepened by the Bahamas' objection to a charge related to U.S. campaign finance laws, although prosecutors still aim to link an alleged $100 million political donation to Bankman-Fried's broader fraud scheme.

Health Concerns: Lack of Vegan Food and Medication

During Tuesday's hearing, Bankman-Fried's lawyers brought attention to the jail's failure to provide him with required medication and vegan food, hindering his ability to prepare for his defense. The judge, showing concern, asked the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons to address the issues.

Prison Conditions: Bureau of Prisons Statement

The Bureau of Prisons stated that inmates had access to appropriate healthcare and meals. However, despite offering vegetarian options, it remains unclear whether vegan food is available.

The Background: Romantic Ties and Inner Circle Betrayal

Bankman-Fried was jailed after sharing personal writings of his former romantic partner and Alameda's ex-CEO, Caroline Ellison, with a New York Times reporter. Ellison, along with two other former inner circle members, has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him at trial.