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FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried accused of bribing Chinese officials

He allegedly ordered a $40 million payment to a private account.

Mike Segar / reuters

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (aka SBF) now faces a total of 13 criminal charges. Per Reuters, a newly unsealed indictment accuses the disgraced entrepreneur of conspiring to pay a $40 million bribe to Chinese government officials. Federal prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried ordered Alameda Research, FTX’s sister company, to transfer the funds to a private wallet, in hopes of convincing Chinese authorities to unfreeze Alameda accounts with more than $1 billion in crypto assets. It is illegal for US citizens to bribe foreign government officials in order to obtain business.

The new charge adds even more pressure on the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried. It was only last month that federal prosecutors added four charges to his then 8-count indictment, accusing SBF of fraudulent activity involving FTX and Alameda Research and violating federal campaign finance laws by making secret donations. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to eight of the 13 criminal charges he faces. He has yet to be arraigned on the remaining ones. Separately, the former entrepreneur faces civil lawsuits from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

SBF has acknowledged FTX employed inadequate risk management. However, he maintains he's not criminally liable for the crypto exchange’s downfall. A trio of former FTX executives – Caroline Ellison, Zixiao "Gary” Wang and Nishad Singh – have pleaded guilty to their own fraud and conspiracy charges, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. According to Reuters, SBF is expected to be arraigned on the new charge on Thursday. That same day, Judge Lewis Kaplan will also consider tweaks to Bankman-Fried’s $250 bail package, including a provision that could limit him to using a dumb phone while he waits for the outcome of his trial.