Crypto Markets Today: Federal Judge Releases Bankman-Fried on $250M Bail

A federal judge agreed to release former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried after he appeared in U.S. federal court in New York on Thursday on charges that he was the mastermind behind the fraudulent and illicit movement of customer funds inside his former crypto empire. The judge set bail at $250 million.

This article originally appeared in Crypto Markets Today, CoinDesk’s daily newsletter diving into what happened in today's crypto markets. Subscribe to get it in your inbox every day.

  • Bankman-Fried, who was brought to the U.S. overnight by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after his extradition from the Bahamas court cleared on Wednesday, arrived at the courthouse in New York to face the U.S. felony charges. The case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York centers on accusations of fraud, money laundering and campaign-finance violations.
  • Bankman-Fried's release was secured by equity in his parents' Palo Alto, California, home, and a long list of requirements was included for him to remain free while he faces charges. He's not allowed to make financial transactions for more than $1,000, can't open new lines of credit, can't leave the house except to exercise and must go through substance-abuse and mental-health treatment, according to the agreement.
  • The former CEO arrived at court in a crumpled suit jacket, and the sound of his restraints was audible in the quiet courtroom. When asked if he agreed to the conditions of release, he nodded. He was then instructed to answer aloud, and he looked at his lawyer before saying, "Yes, I do."
  • Prosecutors have been closing in on the disgraced crypto frontman, inking plea deals inside the FTX inner circle. Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of FTX’s sister company Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, the other co-founder of FTX, pleaded guilty to federal charges and also admitted guilt in securities violations, according to statements from U.S. prosecutors and regulators late Wednesday.
  • The cooperation of Ellison and Wang – who admitted to playing active roles in the company’s fraud – is likely to be key in the case against Bankman-Fried. They’ve admitted that the senior management was aware of lawbreaking in the movement of customer funds between the two firms.

Token Roundup

(Delphi Digital/TradingView)

Bitcoin (BTC): The largest cryptocurrency by market value was recently trading at $16,779, down 0.06% in the past 24 hours. The bitcoin price dropped as low as $16,566 midday Thursday before erasing the losses with a V-shaped recovery. Analysis of past data by Delphi Digital shows that bitcoin tends to lead major stock market bottoms by at least six weeks. "History shows that, on average, BTC has topped ~48 days and bottomed ~10 days before the SPX [S&P 500]," Delphi's strategists, led by Kevin Kelly, wrote in a 2023 preview sent to clients on Wednesday

Ether (ETH): The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization followed BTC’s trajectory, trading at around $1,214.

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BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices; gold is COMEX spot price. Prices as of about 4 p.m. ET

Crypto Market Analysis: Strong Economic Data Is Bad News For Bitcoin Bulls

By Glenn Williams Jr.

It’s challenging to find anything positive for crypto prices in economic data released on Thursday.

Strong jobs data and economic growth lead to higher prices, increasing the Federal Reserve’s motivation to put a lid on all three. This in turn leads to a decline in asset prices, impacting both traditional and digital assets.

Investors in traditional equities should expect to see a negative reaction to positive data as well. Investors in digital assets should keep in mind that both bitcoin and ether maintain strong correlations with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

Ultimately, the economy is still doing too well for the Federal Reserve to see positive signs in fighting inflation. Oddly enough, until the U.S economy starts performing poorly, asset prices are likely to suffer.

Read the full technical take here.

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CORRECTION (Dec. 22 22:10 UTC): Corrects the bail dollar amount to $250 million.