FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried tried to bribe Chinese officials, prosecutors say

ByAllison Morrow, CNN
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
FTX's Bankman-Fried tried to bribe Chinese officials, prosecutors say
Federal prosecutors are accusing FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried of bribing "one or more" Chinese government officials with $40 million.

Federal prosecutors tacked on a 13th criminal charge against Sam Bankman-Fried, accusing the FTX co-founder of bribing "one or more" Chinese government officials with $40 million.

The new indictment was unsealed by the Southern District Court of New York on Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried, who is out on a $250 million bond, has already pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts of fraud and conspiracy, and has not yet been arraigned on five others.

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A bail hearing was scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. ET.

A spokesman for Bankman-Fried declined to comment.

In the indictment, prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried sought to pay off Chinese officials in an effort to unfreeze accounts belonging to his hedge fund, Alameda Research. The accounts, which the Chinese governemnt had frozen in a crackdown on cryptocurrencies, held more than $1 billion of digital assets, prosecutors say.

The accounts were released after the payment was transferred in from Alameda's main trading account to a private cryptocurrency wallet, according to the indictment.

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The charges against Bankman-Fried stem from what prosecutors have characterized as one of the biggest financial frauds in US history. They say that Bankman-Fried orchestrated a massive fraud, stealing deposits from his cryptocurrency exchange FTX, to finance risky bets at his hedge fund, funnel contributions to American politicians and underwrite a luxury lifestyle for himself and his employees in the Bahamas.

FTX had been one of the buzziest and biggest platforms for trading digital assets before it collapsed into bankruptcy in November.

The 31-year-old Bankman-Fried has previously acknowledged mishandling his business but has denied committing fraud.

Three of Bankman-Fried's former business partners - Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison and Nishad Singh - have pleaded guilty to numerous charges and are cooperating with investigators.

If convicted on all counts, he could face more than 155 years in prison. A trial has been scheduled for October.

-CNN's Kara Scannell contributed reporting.

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