Skip to content

The End of the Race for FTX’s Nishad Singh

Friends of the family told New India Abroad they were shocked to learn that the "sweet little boy" they had once known was involved in a multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency scam, one of the biggest financial frauds in US history.

Nishad Singh (center), one of two people in the U.S. under 16 to complete 100 miles in less than 30 hours, carried the opening torch for the fifth annual Sevathon held July 14, 2013 in Sunnyvale, California. Singh Feb. 28 pleaded guilty for his role in a multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency scam. (Photo courtesy of Preston Merchant)

On Aug. 21, 2011, Nishad Singh earned the distinction of being just one of two kids in the U.S. under 16 to finish a 100-mile race in less than 30 hours.

“I’m so tired, but it’s the best kind of tired. There is a meditative quality to long-distance running,” Singh told this reporter a day after he finished the Run de Vous in San Mateo, California, running the last 28 miles in his socks because of an ankle injury.

The young teen, who grew up in Saratoga, California  — and attended the tony Crystal Springs Upland school with the brother of his future business partner, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried — said his health had always hampered his athletic goals. “My asthma always got in the way,” he said in the interview, adding that he was chubby as a child and always the last to be picked for a sports team. Singh trained for distance, not for speed, to avoid asthma attacks.

With the help of his mother’s running coach, Singh transformed from asthmatic to athletic, running several marathons during his teens to raise money for charitable causes, including organizations involved with asthma research and support.

On Feb. 28, Singh, now 27, pleaded guilty for his involvement in the multi-billion dollar FTX cryptocurrency scam, one of the biggest financial frauds in US history. Last November, FTX declared bankruptcy with $8 billion in the red and millions of dollars unaccounted for.

Nishad Singh, center, with his family, shortly after competing the 100 mile Run de Vous in 2011. (file photo courtesy of Singh's family)

Singh — who founded FTX with Bankman-Fried, along with its offshoot, Alameda Research, and served as director of engineering — pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. By cooperating with prosecutors, which is attempting to make the case against Bankman-Fried, Singh will avoid prison time which could have reached more than 75 years.

After his company collapsed, Bankman-Fried fled to the Bahamas where he was arrested last December and extradited back to the US. He has pleaded not guilty to the numerous charges against him.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a parallel complaint against Singh on Feb. 28, alleging he created software code that allowed FTX customer funds to be diverted to Alameda Research.

Even as it became clear that Alameda and FTX could not make customers whole for the funds already unlawfully diverted, Bankman-Fried, with the knowledge of Singh, directed hundreds of millions of dollars more in FTX customer funds to Alameda Research, which were used for additional venture investments and loans to Bankman-Fried, Singh, and other FTX executives, alleged the SEC.

And as FTX neared collapse, Singh withdrew approximately $6 million from FTX for the purchase of a multi-million dollar house and donations to charitable causes. He had earlier taken out a $543 million loan from FTX.

“We allege that this was fraud, pure and simple: while on the one hand FTX touted its supposed effective risk mitigation measures to investors, on the other Mr. Singh and his co-defendants were stealing customer funds using software code Mr. Singh helped create,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement. "A pillar of our securities laws is that when companies and their representatives decide to speak on an issue, they can’t lie to investors on matters that are core to their investment decisions. That’s true when it comes to crypto asset securities, just as it is in connection with any other securities,” said Grewal, the former Attorney General of New Jersey.

Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, co-founder and former chief technology officer of FTX, pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme on Dec. 19, 2022.

At press time, Singh had not responded to a request for comment. His mother also did not return a call for comment. But several friends of the family told New India Abroad they were shocked to hear that “the sweet little boy” they once knew was involved in fraud of this magnitude.

“Nishad is a trust-fund kid. He didn’t need the money. It seems so unlikely that he would get caught up in something like this,” said one friend of the Singhs, who spoke on conditions of anonymity. Asked if the young entrepreneur might not have known he was committing fraud, the source said: “He knew what he was doing.”

“I really love this kid. He just became too big too soon,” said the friend, adding that Singh’s family is shaken, but holding up and supportive of their son.

Another friend, who also spoke on conditions of anonymity, noted Singh’s penchant for altruism while growing up. “There was no indication of what was to come,” the friend told New India Abroad, adding: “Once our kids go off to college, they become entirely different people. We don’t really know who they are anymore.”

“I’m really hoping Nishad avoids jail time. What has happened is so unfortunate,” said the friend.