Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has retained attorney Mark Cohen, the former prosecutor who recently defended Jeffrey Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell and drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, as his insolvent cryptocurrency companies face legal scrutiny.
FTX recently filed for bankruptcy after users discovered that trading firm Alameda Research, a company run by former Bankman-Fried love interest Caroline Ellison, had allegedly been using funds from FTX to make bets. The entrepreneur appears to have lost billions in clients’ money, yet has not been charged with any crimes, although the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are currently investigating his defunct empire.
Bankman-Fried spokesperson Mark Botnick confirmed in a statement to Reuters that the disgraced former billionaire has officially retained Cohen, a former assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. David Mills, a professor at Stanford Law School, where Bankman-Fried’s parents both teach, will serve as a consultant.
Maxwell, a longtime companion of deceased child sex predator Jeffrey Epstein, was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year on multiple conspiracy and sex trafficking charges. She had aided Epstein with recruiting and grooming young girls.
According to a federal indictment, Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed” to Epstein’s abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 1997, even though both individuals knew that their victims were not adults. Maxwell was accused of “normalizing” the abuse by undressing in front of a victim, discussing sexual topics with other victims, and prompting them to give “sexualized massages” to Epstein. She allegedly tried to befriend victims by taking them on shopping excursions and asking about their lives.
Larry Visoski, who formerly worked as a pilot for Epstein’s private jet, testified in court that Maxwell was the sexual deviant’s “number two.” Influential world leaders and celebrities such as former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Prince Andrew of Britain, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and actor Kevin Spacey were among the individuals who allegedly flew on the aircraft, according to the aviator’s testimony.
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the mastermind behind the Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted three years ago on multiple charges related to narcotics distribution, illegal firearm possession, and money laundering. He had formerly escaped prison two times.
Although his lawyer has represented high-profile criminals, Bankman-Fried denies all accusations of wrongdoing. He told New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin last week that he is “deeply sorry about what happened,” and claimed that a “failure of oversight” on his part was responsible for the cryptocurrency venture’s implosion rather than any overt intention to defraud customers.
FTX emerged three years ago as an overnight success. Based in the Bahamas and incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda, multiple executives within the cryptocurrency empire donated extensively to Democratic and Republican campaigns. Bankman-Fried was the second-largest contributor to the Biden campaign during the 2020 election cycle and the sixth-largest overall contributor during the recent midterm elections.
Many reporters were surprised that Bankman-Fried has been offering comments to media outlets given the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings for FTX, which the attorney who once oversaw the fallout from Enron described as the worst case of corporate failure he has ever witnessed. In one message to a Vox reporter, Bankman-Fried admitted that his persona as an “effective altruist” was largely a ploy meant to earn the trust of “woke westerners.”