The US Department of Justice has accused former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried of paying a $40 million bribe to one or more Chinese government officials. The allegations are part of a revised indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Prosecutors claim that Bankman-Fried sent the bribe in cryptocurrency to Chinese officials in an effort to regain access to trading accounts that had been frozen by Chinese law enforcement. These accounts were connected to Alameda Research, FTX’s sister company.
The new bribery charge has been added to twelve other counts that the former FTX chief is currently facing. Bankman-Fried’s exchange, FTX, collapsed in November last year. He was initially charged with eight criminal counts in December after being extradited from his home in the Bahamas.
In February, prosecutors broadened their case against Bankman-Fried to include charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
According to the revised indictment, Bankman-Fried tried several methods to unfreeze the accounts linked to Alameda Research, including hiring attorneys to lobby on the company’s behalf in China. He also allegedly attempted to use the personal identifying information of several individuals not affiliated with FTX or Alameda in an effort to transfer funds and circumvent the freeze orders imposed by Chinese authorities.
After months of unsuccessful attempts to unfreeze the accounts, the indictment claims that Bankman-Fried directed the multimillion-dollar bribe. Per the indictment, one Alameda employee sent crypto payment instructions for at least part of the bribe payment to other Alameda employees under Bankman-Fried’s orders.
The charges against Bankman-Fried highlight the ongoing scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry and the legal challenges faced by those involved in it.