Sam Bankman-Fried accused of sending a $40 million crypto bribe to Chinese officials

Image: The Verge

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the collapsed FTX cryptocurrency exchange, has been charged with yet another crime: bribery. In an indictment filed on Tuesday, the Department of Justice claims Bankman-Fried “authorized and directed a bribe of at least $40 million to one or more Chinese government officials.”

The bribe was an alleged attempt to get Chinese officials to unfreeze some of the accounts associated with FTX’s sister company, Alameda, which contained over $1 billion in cryptocurrency. According to the DOJ, all of this occurred in November 2021, at a time when Bankman-Fried wanted access to the funds in order to assist Alameda “in obtaining and retaining business.” The indictment states Bankman-Fried exhausted “numerous methods” when trying to unfreeze the funds before allegedly resorting to a bribe that ultimately resulted in the funds getting unlocked.

“After confirmation that the Accounts were unfrozen, Bankman-Fried authorized the transfer of additional tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe,” the indictment reads. “Alameda used the unfrozen cryptocurrency to fund additional Alameda trading activity.”

In addition to this latest charge of bribery, Bankman-Fried’s new bail conditions bar the crypto founder from using a smartphone. His new non-smartphone won’t have access to the internet or Signal, which Bankman-Fried allegedly attempted to contact his colleagues with while out on bail. Bankman-Fried will also have to turn in his existing laptop, which “will be configured to allow access” only to specific websites, such as YouTube, Wikipedia, and Netflix — meaning no more League of Legends.

Last December, Bankman-Fried was arrested and charged with money laundering and fraud. Although Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million bail shortly thereafter, federal prosecutors brought four additional charges against him in February, including new bank fraud and money laundering counts and modified campaign finance charges.

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