March 28, 2023

US charges crypto boss Bankman-Fried with bribing Chinese officials

US charges crypto boss Bankman-Fried with bribing Chinese officials

The United States prosecutors on Tuesday revealed a new allegation against Sam Bankman-Fried, accusing the founder of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange of colluding to bribe Chinese government officials with $40 million worth of payments.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Bankman-Fried with directing the payment in order to unfreeze accounts belonging to his hedge fund, Alameda Research that Chinese authorities had frozen.

The US prosecutors said the accounts held more than $1 billion of cryptocurrency, according to the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

The accounts were unfrozen after the bribe payment was moved around November 2021 from Alameda’s main trading account to a private cryptocurrency wallet, according to the new indictment.

After the accounts were unfrozen, Bankman-Fried approved a transfer of tens of millions of dollars of additional cryptocurrency to complete the bribe, prosecutors disclosed.

The new charge increases the pressure on the 31-year-old former billionaire, who had previously pleaded not guilty to eight counts over the crash of FTX. Prosecutors are saying Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars in customer funds to plug Alameda losses.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have not immediately responded to a request for comment, as reported by the Guardian UK. Bankman-Fried has acknowledged inadequate risk management at FTX, but has denied stealing money.

It has also stood that China’s foreign ministry could not immediately be reached after normal business hours in Beijing.

District Judge Lewis Kaplan scheduled a court hearing for Thursday after prosecutors asked for Bankman-Fried to be arraigned on the new 13-count indictment.

Prosecutors last month unveiled four new counts against Bankman-Fried, accusing him of orchestrating an illegal campaign donation scheme to buy influence in Washington DC. He has not yet been arraigned on the new charges.

The new count accuses Bankman-Fried of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which makes it illegal for US citizens to bribe foreign government officials to win business.

Bankman-Fried is currently confined to his parents’ Palo Alto, California, home on a $250 million bond ahead of his 2 October trial.

On Monday, his lawyers and prosecutors reached a new agreement on revised bail conditions, after Kaplan raised the prospect of sending Bankman-Fried to jail pending trial. That came after prosecutors raised concerns he may have been tampering with witnesses.