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Monday, Feb 06, 2023

Gary Wang, the mysterious FTX cofounder, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges

Gary Wang, the mysterious FTX cofounder, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges

Here's what we know about the key player in the failed crypto empire.
Gary Wang, the cofounder of FTX, has been a mysterious but critical player in the rise and spectacular fall of the crypto empire.

Throughout his time at FTX, Wang maintained a limited online presence and steered clear of media interviews, leaving the limelight to his cofounder, Sam Bankman-Fried.

Wang served as the chief technology officer at FTX until the exchange collapsed in mid-November. He was the company's second-largest shareholder.

Here's what else we know about the mysterious cofounder:

A prolific coder with degrees from MIT
Wang reportedly met Bankman-Fried at math camp when the pair were at high school. The future cofounders were also college roommates at MIT and lived together in a Bahamas house that was home to several other FTX employees.

After graduating from MIT with degrees in mathematics and computer science, Wang worked at Google. He was an engineer at the company, building systems to aggregate prices across millions of flights, per Forbes.

When Bankman-Fried cofounded Alameda Research in 2017, Wang reportedly left his role at Google.

Wang later became the chief technology officer at FTX, establishing himself as a key member of the crypto empire's inner circle. The tight group of executives reportedly included Wang, Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, who was formerly Alameda's CEO, and Nishad Singh, FTX's former director of engineering.

The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that Alameda Research's chief executive and senior FTX officials knew that FTX had lent its customers' money to Alameda to help it meet its liabilities.

A reclusive figure
Singh, who was mentored by Wang, once described him as brilliant "beyond belief" in a 2020 podcast cited by the Sydney Morning Herald.

But at FTX, Wang was a somewhat reclusive figure, per reports. The executive's profile picture didn't show his face when it appeared on company systems, The Block reported.

Sources told the publication that he was one of a few employees who worked from home, and liked to get stuck into coding. "Gary always struck me as someone who was like, 'just tell me what to do and leave me alone,'" a source familiar with both Alameda's and FTX's operations told The Block.

Fraud charges and guilty plea
Unlike his cofounder, Wang has largely disappeared from view since he was fired from FTX after the company's implosion.

Beyond Bankman-Fried telling a Vox reporter in November that "Gary is scared," not much has been reported about the elusive cofounder.

On Wednesday, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that both Wang and Ellison had pleaded guilty to fraud. 

Wang had been charged with "a multiyear scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX" by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The pair are said to be cooperating with the prosecutors, according to a statement from US attorney, Damian Williams.

Ilan Graff, Wang's attorney, told Insider: "Gary has accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness."
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