Updated Mar 28, 2023, 10:50am EDT
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Sam Bankman-Fried charged with bribing Chinese officials

REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

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The U.S. charged Sam Bankman-Fried with bribing Chinese government officials in a revised indictment revealed Tuesday.

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The FTX co-founder was accused of authorizing the transfer of $40 million in cryptocurrency to benefit “one or more” Chinese government officials.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said that Bankman-Fried directed the bribes in order to unfreeze accounts belonging to his hedge fund, Alameda Research, that Chinese authorities had frozen as part of an ongoing investigation of a “a particular Alameda trading counterparty.”

The accounts held more than $1 billion of cryptocurrency, U.S. prosecutors said.

After several failed attempts to unfreeze the accounts and regain access to the cryptocurrency, Bankman-Fried allegedly directed a “multi-million dollar bribe” that was intended to “induce and influence” one or more Chinese officials, the indictment said.

On November 2021, a payment of $40 million worth of cryptocurrency was transferred from Alameda’s main trading account to a private cryptocurrency wallet, and the accounts were subsequently unfrozen.

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Federal prosecutors accuse the 31-year-old founder of the now-defunct crypto exchange service of misusing customer and investor funds in one of "the biggest financial frauds in American history." They allege that Bankman-Fried funneled the money to his own Alameda Research hedge fund and directed millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to buy political influence.

Bankman-Fried has previously pleaded not guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.