Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty Thursday in New York federal court to five additional charges related to the collapse of his former crypto exchange FTX and hedge fund Alameda Research.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed a third round of criminal charges against FTX’s disgraced ex-CEO in a new indictment unsealed Tuesday. This time, the focus was on Bankman-Fried, who allegedly bribed a foreign government.
Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried, who arrived at the courthouse about an hour before the hearing looking disheveled after an intense media standoff, directed a payment of at least $40 million in cryptocurrency to one or more Chinese government officials in an attempt to unfreeze the trade. accounts related to his crypto hedge fund Alameda Research.
Bankman-Fried and his associates considered and tried “numerous methods” to unfreeze the accounts, which contained about $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency, prosecutors allege. Ultimately, after both legal and personal efforts failed, Bankman-Fried acquiesced and sent multimillion-dollar bribes to unlock the frozen accounts, prosecutors allege.
Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund then allegedly used the unfrozen assets to continue financing Alameda’s loss-making deals, continuing what the government says was fraud on clients and investors for another year.
The former crypto-billionaire also pleaded not guilty to charges related to bank fraud, money laundering, as well as operating an unlicensed money transmission business and making illegal political contributions in the United States. Fried allegedly ran in violation of federal campaign finance laws. Bankman-Fried has already pleaded not guilty to eight other counts.
FTX and Alameda collapsed in November 2022 after concerns about their balance sheets turned into a veritable bank run. In addition to this federal charge, Bankman-Fried also faces civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Meanwhile, FTX Bankman-Fried, which collapsed, is still in Delaware bankruptcy proceedings.
The trial will begin in October.
— CNBC’s Dawn Gill contributed to this report.