FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, or “SBF,” is facing a new 13-count indictment from authorities in the United States.
According to a court filing by United States attorney Damian Williams, one of the new SBF’s charges includes an alleged $40-million bribe to a Chinese government official in a new superseding indictment.
In section 105 of the filing, the complaint claims that SBF and other related parties “directed and caused the transfer of at least approximately $40 million in cryptocurrency intended for the benefit of one or more Chinese government officials.” According to the allegations, the transaction was made in order to influence and induce Chinese officials to unfreeze cryptocurrency accounts at FTX’s affiliate firm, Alameda Research. The accounts reportedly held more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency.
According to the filing, Chinese law enforcement authorities froze certain Alameda accounts on “two of China’s largest crypto exchanges” in or around early 2021. The FTX founder was aware of the freeze and tried numerous methods to unfreeze the accounts, including attempting to transfer cryptocurrency to fraudulent accounts in an effort to circumvent China’s freeze orders.
“After months of failed attempts to unfreeze the accounts, Samuel Bankman-Fried discussed with others and ultimately agreed to and directed a multimillion-dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the accounts,” the court filing notes. After the accounts were unfrozen at the direction of SBF, Alameda used unfrozen cryptocurrency to fund additional Alameda trading activity, the U.S. government found.
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It appears to be unclear what Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges Alameda was using in early 2021 as China officially banned crypto exchanges from providing services in the country back in 2017. As previously reported, China enforced a blanket ban on crypto in September 2021.
FTX founder Bankman-Fried faces a trial set for Oct. 2, 2023, on criminal charges of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds facilitated through Alameda Research. He is also alleged to have made large illegal political donations. He pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts, which could result in 115 years in prison should he be convicted.
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