Sam Bankman-Fried paid a $40 million bribe to at least one Chinese government official to unfreeze $ 1 billion worth of cryptocurrency, a fresh indictment today alleged.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Bankman-Fried on Tuesday with directing the payment in cryptocurrency in order to unfreeze accounts belonging to his hedge fund, Alameda Research, that Chinese authorities had frozen in November 2021. The accounts held more than $1 billion of cryptocurrency, U.S. prosecutors said.
Once those assets were unfrozen, the indictment says, Bankman-Fried authorized another transfer of tens of millions of dollars of additional cryptocurrency to complete the bribe.
The 13 new international bribery charges increase the pressure on the 31-year-old former billionaire, who had previously pleaded not guilty to eight counts of defrauding investors by using their money to plug losses for Alameda.
Sam Bankman-Fried, 31, is facing fresh charges of bribing a Chinese government official
He previously pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding investors in the collapse of FTX
According to the new indictment, Bankman-Fried and his associates tried ‘numerous methods’ to unfreeze the accounts in November 2021.
But after both legal and personal efforts failed, Bankman-Fried agreed to and directed the multimillion-dollar bribe ‘intended for the benefit of one or more Chinese government officials in order to influence and induce them’ to unfreeze the accounts.
He then allegedly used the money to help fund Alameda’s failing trades and was able to defraud customers and investors for another year before the cryptocurrency exchange imploded.
SBF was ultimately forced to declare FTX bankrupt in November 2022 as concerns about the missing funds led to a bank-run.
He is now facing federal and civil charges from both the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
And with this new indictment, he is also charged with 13 counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to bribe foreign government officials to win business.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan scheduled a court hearing for Thursday after prosecutors asked for Bankman-Fried to be arraigned on the new indictment.
Bankman-Fried has previously denied knowingly committing fraud, instead blaming sloppy accounting and poor oversight.
DailyMail.com has reached out to his lawyers for comment.
China’s foreign ministry could not immediately be reached after normal business hours in Beijing.
Bankman-Fried’s FTX cryptocurrency exchange came crumbling down in November 2021
The new indictment comes just one month after federal prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of orchestrating an illegal campaign donation scheme to buy influence in Washington, D.C. He has not yet been arraigned on the new charges.
But the alleged fraudster pleaded not guilty in January to criminal charges that he defrauded investors in his crypto exchange out of $1.8 billion.
He is now being held at his parents’ Palo Alto, California home on $250 million bond ahead of his October 2 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.