Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to latest fraud, bribery charges

Prosecutors claim the former FTX CEO conspired to transfer $40 million to foreign officials.

·2 min read
Amanda Perobelli / reuters

FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (aka SBF) pleaded not guilty to five additional criminal charges this morning, according to CNBC. Prosecutors accuse the disgraced crypto exec of fraud and bribery for conspiring to send at least $40 million to Chinese government officials so they would unfreeze more than $1 billion in cryptocurrency, which he allegedly used to fund loss-generating trades.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) unsealed the third round of criminal charges against SBF in a superseding indictment; SBF has now pleaded not guilty to all 13 charges. Additionally, he faces civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). His attorney, Mark Cohen, claimed he would file a motion that SBF can’t be tried on charges brought after his extradition from the Bahamas in December.

Federal prosecutors allege SBF and his partners tried “numerous” legal and personal methods to unfreeze the funds before moving forward with the bribe. They say SBF directed Alameda Research, FTX’s sister company, to transfer more than $40 million to a private wallet. Of course, it’s illegal for US citizens to bribe foreign officials to generate business. The new charges ramp up pressure on the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried, who reportedly “arrived at the courthouse about an hour before the hearing, looking disheveled after an intense media scrum.”

Three former FTX executives, Caroline Ellison, Zixiao “Gary” Wang, and Nishad Singh, have pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges and have agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. There’s no word yet on the judge’s ruling about whether SBF will be forced to use a feature phone and limit internet access as part of his bail terms. After it was revealed SBF was using a virtual private network (VPN) and possibly tampering with witnesses, District Judge Lewis Kaplan previously said he didn’t want SBF “loose on his garden of electronic devices.”