Who is Caroline Ellison? | Former SEC top crypto officer hired by Caroline Ellison for FTX probe

In the federal investigation into the tragic collapse of bitcoin exchange FTX, Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, has appointed a former SEC officer who managed many of the regulator’s largest cryptocurrency cases as her attorney.

Who is Stephanie Avakian?

According to persons with knowledge of the situation, Stephanie Avakian, a former enforcement division chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is representing Ellison with other attorneys at her company, WilmerHale.

The legal firm’s spokesperson refused to comment.

Congress, lawmakers, and Manhattan prosecutors are looking into claims that Alameda traded billions of dollars in customer cash that were put at the exchange. Alameda was FTX’s Hong Kong-based sibling trading company.

In numerous media interviews, Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of FTX, blamed Alameda. Ellison, on the other hand, has stayed mute to this point, stoking rumours that she would be looking to work with the police on a cooperation agreement.

Before joining WilmerHale in 2020, Stephanie Avakian served as the SEC’s enforcement director for four years and as the deputy director for two. Together with Steve Peikin, who is presently assisting FTX in its bankruptcy procedures, she served as a director. The regulator increased enforcement during their term in the cryptocurrencies industry.

One of the cases Avakian managed involved the blockchain firm Ripple Labs, whose founders were charged with illegally generating $1.3 billion through the sale of unregistered securities backed by digital assets. The question of whether crypto assets constitute securities is still up for debate following the 2020 SEC lawsuit.

Stephanie Avakian oversaw enforcement proceedings against Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc., General Electric, and Robinhood Markets outside the cryptocurrency industry.

Who is Anjani Sahni?

Anjan Sahni, a partner at WilmerHale and a former federal prosecutor who ran for the position of US attorney for the Southern District of New York under President Joe Biden before Damian Williams was chosen last year, is also involved in Ellison’s case, according to those with knowledge of the situation.

The criminal inquiry into FTX is being handled by the Southern District. Sahni previously worked at the office for ten years and managed numerous insider trading investigations as well as the inquiry into Bernie Madoff’s collaborators and facilitators. Before leaving in 2015, he oversaw the Southern District’s securities fraud unit.

It’s unclear whether Sahni and Stephanie Avakian’s recent trips to the Southern District prosecutors’ office in Lower Manhattan had anything to do with Ellison.

Since an unverified photo of the 28-year-old at a Soho cafe appeared on Twitter on December 4, there has been much conjecture about her location.

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