The US Department of Justice charged former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried with bribing Chinese officials, bringing to 13 the total number of counts he faces, all of them stemming from alleged corruption in the operations of FTX and Alameda Research. According to a new indictment, Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX managers transferred $40 million to at least one Chinese official in order to unfreeze Alameda Research account, which reportedly held more than $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency.
According to the filing, Chinese law enforcement agencies froze a number of Alameda accounts on two of China’s largest crypto exchanges in or around early 2021. The FTX founder had tried numerous methods to unfreeze accounts and finally, after both legal and personal efforts failed, he agreed and directed a multi-million dollar bribe to unlock the frozen accounts, the filing noted.
After the accounts were unlocked, Alameda used the unfrozen assets to fund Alameda’s loss-generating trades, the US government found.
Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested by the Bahamas government in December 2022, then extradited to the US and released on $250 million recognizance bond. The former founder faces trial on Oct 2, 2023, on criminal charges of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds backed through Alameda Research. He is also accused of making large illegal political donations. He pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts, which could lead to 115 years in prison if he is convicted.