Alameda ex-CEO Caroline Ellison taps SEC's former top crypto regulator as lawyer in FTX investigation
Caroline Ellison hired Stephanie Avakian and law firm WilmerHale to represent her in the FTX investigation, per Bloomberg.
Avakian was a top regulator at the SEC, where she increased oversight of cryptocurrency.
She also led major cases against companies including Tesla, Theranos, Facebook, and Wells Fargo, among others.
Alameda Research ex-CEO Caroline Ellison has retained a former top cryptocurrency regulator for the US Securities and Exchange Commission as the federal investigation into the downfall of FTX continues.
Bloomberg first reported that Ellison hired Stephanie Avakian, chair of the securities and financial services department at law firm WilmerHale and the SEC's former enforcement director. Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that Avakian, as well as fellow WilmerHale lawyers, will represent Ellison.
During her tenure at the SEC from 2016 to 2022, Akavian led a team that worked on several high-profile cases against major companies and notable figures. They include Elizabeth Holmes for making fraudlent claims to investors to raise $700 million for Theranos, Elon Musk for tweeting misleading statements about a plan to take Tesla private, and Facebook for misleading investors about the risks of misusing user data.
Akavian was also instrumental in increasing cryptocurrency regulation while at the SEC, leading cases against companies like Robinhood and Ripple Lab.
Avakian and WilmerHale will represent Ellison during the federal probe into her former company, Alameda Research, the trading firm and corporate sibling of fallen cryptocurrency exchange, FTX.
Prior to FTX filing for bankruptcy in November, Alameda borrowed $3.3 billion worth of funds from the cryptocurrency exchange and lent them to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and companies he controlled to cover losses and make risky bets, according to court documents.
Ellison has remained an elusive figure in the collapse of FTX, staying mum and largely unreachable during its downfall. As noted by Bloomberg, while Bankman-Fried has publicly placed blame on Alameda in numerous interviews, Ellison has stayed silent. Some have speculated she may be cutting a deal and cooperating with authorities, according to New York magazine.
The Senate Banking Committee said earlier this week that if Bankman-Fried does not appear before lawmakers next week to testify, he will be subpoenaed.
"As the Founder and CEO of FTX Trading Ltd. at the time of its collapse and the founder, principal owner, and former CEO of Alameda Research, you must answer for the failure of both entities that was caused, at least in part, by the clear misuse of client funds and wiped out billions of dollars owed to over a million creditors," Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brow, said in a public statement to the former billionaire on Tuesday.
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