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


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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