Caroline Ellison is the former CEO of Alameda Research, the trading arm of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, both of which were founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, her former boss and ex-boyfriend. Ellison was fired from that position after FTX and Alameda filed for bankruptcy in November of 2022. In December 2022, she pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In October 2023, Ellison testified against Bankman-Fried in his criminal fraud trial after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors in return for leniency. During her appearance in court, Ellison said Bankman-Fried "directed" her to commit the financial crimes she pleaded guilty to.
Ellison primarily grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb. Her parents are both academics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her father, Glenn Ellison, is the department head of economics at MIT and her mother, Sara Fisher Ellison, is a senior lecturer in economics there.
Ellison graduated from Newton North High School in 2012, and went on to study mathematics at Stanford University. After college she went to work as a trader for Jane Street, where she met Bankman-Fried. He recruited her to join Alameda shortly after he founded the company in 2018. However, there was an internal crisis at the trading firm over millions in lost funds, which he did not tell her about. Half of Alameda’s early staff quit in opposition to Bankman-Fried, but Ellison stayed on. When Bankman-Fried dropped his title of Alameda chief executive in mid-2021 to show the company was separate from FTX, Ellison was named co-chief executive with another trader, Sam Trabucco. Trabucco began to withdraw from his duties, however, and quit the firm in mid-2022.
Ellison became the head of Alameda Research in August 2022. By November 2022, FTX had spiraled into bankruptcy, and Ellison began to draw attention for her role in overseeing Alamedia's risky investments using customers' funds.
Ellison graduated from Stanford University.
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