Report: Bankman-Fried to Plead Not Guilty in Chinese Bribe Case

Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried will reportedly plead not guilty to a $40 million bribery charge.

The FTX founder had earlier pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy for allegedly overseeing the multibillion-dollar collapse of his cryptocurrency empire.

On Thursday (March 30), Bankman-Fried will plead not guilty to two new counts from unsealed indictments — the bribery charge, announced earlier this week — as well as bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

That’s according to a report by Reuters, which cites sources familiar with the matter.

An indictment unsealed Tuesday (March 28) accuses Bankman-Fried, 31, of approving bribes of more than $40 million for Chinese government officials to regain access to frozen cryptocurrency accounts in 2021.

According to the indictment, those accounts contained more than $1 billion in cryptocurrency tied to Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s investment firm. The funds were seized during an investigation by the Chinese government into a “particular Alameda trading counterparty,” the new indictment said.

After paying off a Chinese official, Bankman-Fried was able to regain access to that account, the indictment alleges.

Last month, prosecutors unsealed another indictment that alleges Bankman-Fried and his companies made more than 300 political contributions — totaling in the tens of millions — to politicians of both major parties, using other FTX employee’s names.

“Bankman-Fried’s use of straw donors allowed him to evade contribution limits on individual donations to candidates to whom he had already donated,” the indictment says.

Prosecutors also accuse Bankman-Fried of bank fraud, saying he and others opened a bank account under false pretenses.

All of this adds more pressure to Bankman-Fried, who already faces decades in prison if convicted on the initial charges when he goes to trial in October.

The downfall of his company last year — amid an already rough period for the digital asset sector — continues to shake the cryptocurrency sector, which has faced increased regulatory pressure.

As PYMNTS wrote last week, the industry’s path to regulatory acceptance seems to grow longer with each passing news cycle, as company after company finds itself in the government’s sights.

This week has seen the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accuse Chicago-based crypto company Beaxy and several of its executives of operating as an unregistered broker, exchange and clearing agency.

And on Monday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed suit against crypto giant Binance, accusing it of violating the commission’s regulations. As PYMNTS wrote, that legal action also aims to ban Binance from operating in the U.S.