Disgraced crypto exec Sam Bankman-Fried faces new bribery charge, pleads not guilty
Written by ABC AUDIO on March 30, 2023
(NEW YORK) — Embattled crypto executive Sam Bankman-Fried now faces an additional criminal charge of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday in the Southern District of New York.
The new charge brings to 13 the total number of counts Bankman-Fried faces, all stemming from alleged corruption in the operations of the crypto companies he founded: FTX and Alameda Research.
Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty on Thursday to this newest count and four others unsealed in a prior indictment in late February. Bankman-Fried had previously pleaded not guilty to the other eight charges he faces.
“We will be challenging the new charges when motions are filed,” a spokesperson for Bankman-Fried told ABC News.
Bankman-Fried is due back in court June 15.
Bankman-Fried allegedly agreed to pay $40 million in cryptocurrency to foreign officials in China so they would unfreeze certain trading accounts on two of China’s largest crypto exchanges that belonged to Alameda, according to the superseding indictment.
The accounts had been frozen in 2021 by Chinese authorities as part of an investigation of a certain Alameda trading counterparty.
“After the accounts were frozen, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the defendant, and others operating at his direction, considered and tried numerous methods to unfreeze the accounts,” the indictment said. “After months of failed attempts to unfreeze the accounts, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the defendant, discussed with others and ultimately agreed to and directed a multi-million dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the accounts.”
The alleged bribe payment was carried out in November 2021, at which time the accounts were unfrozen, prosecutors said, and Bankman-Fried resumed trading with the estimated $1 billion that remained in those accounts.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges. He has yet to enter a plea on this newest count and four others unsealed in a previous superseding indictment in late February.
Bankman-Fried has been free on a $250 million personal recognizance bond and under court orders to live with his parents. On Thursday, the judge overseeing the case will consider additional restrictions on Bankman-Fried’s bail after federal prosecutors raised concerns about his internet activities and his contact with current and former FTX employees.
According to a new court filing, Bankman-Fried’s parents have agreed to not allow him to use their phones and laptops and to install monitoring software on those devices that will photograph the device’s user every five minutes.
If the judge agrees, Bankman-Fried will not be allowed to contact current or former FTX and Alameda employees, use Signal or other encrypted messaging apps or use a VPN to access the internet.
He will be given a new laptop configured to allow access only to pre-approved websites, which are necessary for the preparation of the defense or for personal use, and do not pose a risk to the community.
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