Disgraced crypto exec Sam Bankman-Fried faces new bribery charge

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 replacement indictment unsealed Tuesday in New York’s Southern District.

The new indictment brings the total number of counts facing Bankman-Fried to 13, all stemming from alleged corruption in the operations of the crypto companies he founded: FTX and Alameda Research.

Bankman-Fried allegedly agreed to pay $40 million in cryptocurrency to foreign officials in China so that they would unblock certain trading accounts on two of China’s largest crypto exchanges that belonged to Alameda, according to the replacement indictment.

The accounts were frozen by Chinese authorities in 2021 as part of an investigation into a particular Alameda trading counterparty.

“After the accounts were frozen, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the defendant and others working under his direction considered and attempted various methods to unblock the accounts,” the indictment said. “After months of failed attempts to unblock the accounts, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the defendant, discussed with others and finally agreed to a multi-million dollar bribe to unblock the accounts.”

PHOTO: Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, charged with fraud over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, is leaving for his hearing in Manhattan federal court in New York City on Jan. 3, 2023.

Former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, charged with fraud over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, is set to leave for his hearing in Manhattan federal court in New York City on January 3, 2023.

David Dee Delgado/Reuters, FILE

The alleged bribe payment occurred in November 2021, at which point the accounts were closed, prosecutors said, and Bankman-Fried resumed trading with the estimated $1 billion still in those accounts.

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight charges. He has yet to enter a plea on this latest indictment and four others unsealed in an earlier superseding indictment at the end of February.

Bankman-Fried is free on a $250 million personal acknowledgment bond and court order to live with his parents. On Thursday, the judge overseeing the case is considering 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.

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According to a new lawsuit, Bankman-Fried’s parents have agreed not to allow him to use their phones and laptops and install surveillance software on those devices that captures 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 is given a new laptop configured to allow access only to pre-approved websites, which are necessary for defense preparation or personal use, and pose no risk to the community.

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