Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire founder of FTX cryptocurrency exchange, has been hit with a new criminal charge in the ongoing investigation into alleged market manipulation. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has accused Bankman-Fried of using a software program known as “Algo” to manipulate the price of a cryptocurrency futures contract. The charge comes after the DoJ had already filed a civil lawsuit against Bankman-Fried and his company for alleged market manipulation in 2018 and 2019.
According to the DoJ, Bankman-Fried used Algo to “spoof” the market by placing orders for futures contracts without intending to execute them, in order to create the impression of demand and push up the price. The charge of commodities fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Bankman-Fried has denied the charges and stated that his company has “zero tolerance” for market manipulation. He has also stated that FTX has “fully cooperated” with the investigation.
The new charge comes as FTX has been gaining popularity and recognition in the cryptocurrency industry. The exchange recently secured a naming rights deal for the arena of the NBA’s Miami Heat and also sponsored the Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-Star Game.