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FTX co-founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was hit with a new indictment Tuesday by federal prosecutors, accusing him of paying millions in bribes to at least one Chinese government official.
According to information circulated by several major media platforms, the federal prosecutors said that SBF paid at least $40 million to unfreeze accounts belonging to FTX’s trading arm Alameda Research, suspended in China. The accounts reportedly contained $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies.
The new indictment, which brings the total number of charges faced by the disgraced entrepreneur to 13, explained in depth how SBF used several means to try unfreezing the accounts held with two of the largest crypto exchanges in China.
Attempts by SBF to unfreeze the frozen accounts
Bankman-Fried tried hiring attorneys to lobby in China on behalf of the company and unfreeze the funds. When the efforts seemed futile, he tried using the personal identification documents of individuals who did not work with the exchange to unfreeze the funds, according to the filed documents.
When none of his attempts went through, the 31-year-old entrepreneur directed one employee to pay a portion of the bribe, unfreezing the funds and channeling them to Alameda Research. Once the accounts were unfrozen, SBF reportedly paid the remaining amounts in the tens of millions.
With the foreign bribery charge, SBF now faces 13 counts of federal criminal charges in what has been described by the prosecutors as the biggest financial fraud in American history. In December, the prosecutors leveled eight counts against the former executive, including money laundering, conspiracy to commit fraud, and securities fraud. The charges were later broadened to 12 at the beginning of the year, including allegations of campaign financing laws.
The employee who assisted SBF in paying the bribe was not named by the prosecutors but was alleged to be a resident of the US. The prosecutors also did not mention the Chinese government official who received the bribe.
The new charges now put pressure on SBF to take a guilty plea to evade a longer time in prison if convicted of the charges against him. So far, three of his former executives, including former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, have pleaded guilty.
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