US Prosecutors hit disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried with new criminal charges–bribing Chinese government officials with $40 million.
This is the 13th charge added to a growing list of charges against Bankman-Fried since the collapse of his billion-dollar crypto empire.
The newly unsealed indictment alleged that Bankman-Fried conspired to pay off “one or more” Chinese officials to grant him access to his frozen accounts which contained more than $ 1 billion in cryptocurrency in 2021.
Unsealed documents say, “After confirmation that the accounts were unfrozen, Bankman-Fried authorized the transfer of additional tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe.”
This is a violation of the US anti-bribery law. He will be arraigned on the new indictment on Thursday before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan federal court.
He intends to plead not guilty, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Before the alleged bribery, Bankman-Fried tried other methods to unfreeze the funds–hiring lawyers to advocate for him in China and opening accounts on Chinese exchanges with the use of the personal information of several unnamed people who were reportedly not affiliated with FTX or Alameda Research, according to documents.
Bankman-Fried remains on a $250 million bond under house arrest at his parents’ house in California, and has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud and conspiracy as over one million clients grieve the loss of billions of dollars when he allegedly funneled money from FTX to Alameda Research, his hedge fund.
The 31-year-old lived in the Bahamas where FTX, the 32 billion dollar company was headquartered and it is believed his exchange was “a scheme to defraud customers by misappropriating those customers’ deposits and using those deposits to pay expenses and debts of Alameda Research.”
When China began to scrutinize the cryptocurrency in 2021, Bankman-Fried moved his company’s headquarters from Hong Kong, China to the Bahamas where it was registered by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas and operated under the name FTX Digital Markets.
He said at the time, “The Bahamas is one of the few places to set up a comprehensive framework for crypto,” adding that it“has emerged from COVID lively, safe, and without quarantine.”