FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) is expected to plead not guilty on Thursday to a new set of charges by the US government, which allege that the curly-haired former billionaire bribed Chinese officials to unfreeze locked funds belonging to Alameda Research, SBF’s now-defunct crypto trading firm, and conspired to violate campaign finance laws.
The new 13-count indictment claims that in 2021, SBF gave $40 million to Chinese officials for their help in unfreezing Alameda trading accounts held on two Chinese exchanges. The accounts contained $1 billion in cryptocurrency, according to US officials.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters reporters that SBF will plead not guilty to these new charges — just like he has to the existing allegations made against him. These include, but are certainly not limited to, wire fraud, derivatives fraud, and securities fraud.
Before deciding to bribe Chinese officials, authorities allege that SBF tried to contact the exchanges to unfreeze the funds. When that didn’t work, he retained lawyers in China and opened accounts on the exchanges with misleading information that omitted his connection with FTX or Alameda.
In February, prosecutors filed a 12-count indictment accusing SBF of buying influence in Washington with tens of millions of dollars worth of illicit funds through straw donors.
SBF’s trial is set to begin on October 2. He faces decades in prison if found guilty of an increasing mountain of criminal charges.