Sam Bankman-Fried accused of paying $40 million bribe to Chinese official

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                    March 28, 2023                  

Sam Bankman-Fried allegedly directed a roughly $40 million bribe to one or more Chinese government officials to unfreeze cryptocurrency assets held in the country by his Alameda Research hedge fund, according to a newly unsealed indictment against Bankman-Fried. Sam Bankman-Fried now faces 13 federal criminal charges. Image: Getty

Key Takeaways

Bankman-Fried is charged for conspiring to violate the anti-bribery section of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by overseeing the movement of $40 million from an Alameda account to a private account believed to belong to Chinese officials in November 2021. The former billionaire CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX now faces 13 criminal counts for illicit business practices in his one-time crypto empire, up from the eight charges he faced upon his December arrest. Bankman-Fried ordered the overseas bribe after Chinese authorities blocked access to about $1 billion in crypto assets belonging to Alameda, according to prosecutors.

The bribery charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, a relatively meager period compared to the 100-plus sentences associated with Bankman-Fried’s other charges.

The fresh allegation against Bankman-Fried comes hours after his defense and prosecutors proposed an amendment to his bail conditions, outlawing the 31-year-old from using a smartphone or accessing most websites.

Bankman-Fried’s multibillion-dollar empire came crashing down suddenly last November after CoinDesk reported on the suspicious intermingling of finances at FTX and Alameda.

Bankman-Fried resigned from FTX two weeks after the report when the company filed for bankruptcy, and he and several other high-ranking executives at the two firms were subsequently arrested.

A spokesman for Bankman-Fried declined to comment.

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