Entrepreneur-turned-criminal Sam Bankman-Fried, who is currently facing a dozen charges, is now looking at even more trouble as prosecutors level another serious claim: That Bankman-Fried tried to bribe Chinese officials.
According to the indictment, prosecutors are alleging that the FTX founder “also conspired to bribe one or more Chinese government officials in order to regain access to Alameda trading accounts that had been frozen by Chinese law enforcement authorities.” Those accounts were frozen as the scandal surrounding FTX and its founder was unfolding.
More via CNN:
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.
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.
Also on Tuesday, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan “approved new bail conditions for Bankman-Fried that will severely restrict his internet access following concerns about his past use of messaging apps and a virtual private network,” CNN noted. Under the new bail terms, Bankman-Fried will have access to a phone and laptop that will be strictly monitored by federal authorities.
He is, according to Kaplan’s ruling, “otherwise prohibited from using any other cellphones, tablets, computers, videogames (including video game platforms and hardware) that permit chat or voice communication, or ‘smart’ devices with Internet access.” The laptop will be controlled largely by his legal team, though he will have access to Netflix and Gmail, as well as some other basic services.
The Collapse of SBF’s Empire
Sam Bankman-Fried was originally arrested by the feds after authorities got “receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges against SBF and is likely to request his extradition,” according to preliminary court filings.
His company, FTX, was a cryptocurrency exchange, but the money deposited there was used to prop up his hedge fund Alameda’s risky financial investments. He also used deposits at FTX to make major contributions to American politicians and live it up in the Bahamas, prosecutors allege. After the crypto exchange collapsed, the troubled entrepreneur went on an ill-advised media tour where he simultaneously apologized for, while denying any responsibility for, FTX’s collapse and the massive fraud that was discovered.
The government’s case against Bankman-Fried could land him in jail for 155 years if he’s convicted on all counts. Three of his business partners — Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison, and Nishad Singh — have already pled guilty to a number of charges and are currently cooperating with investigators.
Bankman-Fried’s donations to politicians have led to numerous calls for those politicians to return the money or donate it to charity. Some have pledged to do so, but others have remained silent on the issue, which raises more questions about the nature of money’s influence in politics. Given the bribe charges detailed on Tuesday, if he was willing to bribe Chinese officials, he may have attempted similar with American officials, some fear.
You can see the full indictment concerning the Chinese officials below.