NEW YORK -- The former engineering director at FTX pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy and wire fraud Tuesday, becoming the third executive from the collapsed cryptocurrency giant to strike a cooperation deal with prosecutors building a case against the company’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried.
The plea by Nishad Singh, 27, in what authorities have labeled one of the biggest frauds in history, encompasses charges that carry potential penalties of up to 75 years in prison if he fails to fully cooperate, including by testifying at any trials.
Singh’s plea “underscores once again that the crimes at FTX were vast in scope and consequence,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“They rocked our financial markets with a multibillion-dollar fraud. And they corrupted our politics with tens of millions of dollars in illegal straw campaign contributions,” he said. “These crimes demand swift and certain justice and that is exactly what we are seeking in the Southern District of New York.”
Among the charges Singh pled guilty to were conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and to defraud the Federal Election Commission. Prosecutors alleged Singh contributed to candidates and political committees and reported those contributions to the FEC in the names of people who didn't actually pay for them.
According to FEC records, Singh contributed roughly $9.7 million last year and in late 2020 to various candidates and committees.
Singh’s lawyers, Andrew Goldstein and Russell Capone, said in a statement that their client is “deeply sorry for his role in this and has accepted responsibility for his actions.”
They added: “He wants to do everything he can to make things right for victims, including by assisting the government to the best of his ability in this case.”
Singh's plea “underscores once again that the crimes at FTX were vast in scope and consequence,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“They rocked our financial markets with a multibillion-dollar fraud. And they corrupted our politics with tens of millions of dollars in illegal straw campaign contributions,” he said. "These crimes demand swift and certain justice and that is exactly what we are seeking in the Southern District of New York.”
Last week, prosecutors filed new fraud charges against Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty in the case. The fresh charges raised the number of years Bankman-Fried could face in prison to 155 years from 115 and described in detail a fraud that the government alleges occurred from 2019 until last November.
Bankman-Fried is awaiting trial while living with his parents in Palo Alto, California, after signing a $250 million personal recognizance bond.
He is accused of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits to support the company he founded, a global cryptocurrency exchange affiliated with the cryptocurrency trading hedge fund Alameda Research.
He also was charged with illegally funding speculative venture investments and misdirecting customer deposits to make charitable donations, along with spending tens of millions of dollars on illegal campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to buy influence over cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.
On the same December day Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas to face charges in New York City, prosecutors announced that two of his associates had pleaded guilty and forged their own deals to cooperate with prosecutors. Carolyn Ellison, Alameda Research's former chief executive; and Gary Wang, an FTX cofounder, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, securities fraud and commodities fraud.