Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland pleads not guilty to fraud charges

The luxury music festival was pulled after ticket-buyers turned up to find the event was not ready to go ahead as advertised

Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland has pled not guilty to fraud charges.

The luxury music festival was due to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exhuma across two weekends in April and May of this year. However, when ticket-buyers – some of whom had spent thousands of dollars on passes – arrived, they found chaos and tents and pre-packaged sandwiches instead of the villas and fine cuisine promised.

McFarland was arrested in June after an FBI investigation into him and his company, Fyre Media. He was charged with two counts of wire fraud for actively misrepresenting his and the company’s income with false statements, as Pitchfork reports.

He is accused of making false statements to overstate Tyre’s financial stability to potential investors, making false claims about festival insurance policies, sharing fraudulent documents claiming Fyre had been granted a $3 million loan (£2.3m) by a bank.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for December 13. A trial is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2018, unless an agreement between McFarland and US prosecutors is reached.

Ja Rule, who is a business partner of McFarland’s, has not been charged with any offences, but has been named as a defendant in many of the civil lawsuits that have been brought against McFarland, Fyre Festival and Fyre Media since the ill-fated event.