Disgraced crypto executive Sam Bankman-Fried faces new bribery charge and pleads not guilty

Embattled crypto executive Sam Bankman-Fried now faces an additional criminal charge of conspiring to violate anti-corruption provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to an indictment from unsealed replacement Tuesday in the Southern District of New York.

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

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty Thursday to that new count and four others unsealed in an earlier indictment in late February. Bankman-Fried had previously pleaded not guilty to the eight other counts he faces.

“We will contest the new charges when the motions are filed,” a spokesperson for Bankman-Fried told ABC News.

Bankman-Fried is due back in court on June 15.

Bankman-Fried allegedly agreed to pay $40 million in cryptocurrency to foreign officials in China to unblock certain trading accounts on two of China’s largest crypto exchanges owned by Alameda, the indictment claims. of substitution.

The accounts had been frozen in 2021 by Chinese authorities as part of an investigation into a certain Alameda trading counterparty.

“After the accounts were frozen, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the defendant, and others operating under him considered and tried numerous methods to unfreeze the accounts,” the indictment states. “After months of unsuccessful attempts to unfreeze the accounts, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the defendant, argued with others and eventually agreed and directed a multi-million dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the accounts .”

Former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges following the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, leaves his hearing in Manhattan federal court in New York, on January 3, 2023.

David Dee Delgado/Reuters, FILE

The alleged bribe payment was made in November 2021, when the accounts were unblocked, prosecutors said, and Bankman-Fried resumed operations with the estimated $1 billion remaining in those accounts.

Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges. He has yet to plead guilty to that new charge and four others unsealed in a previous replacement indictment in late February.

Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million personal recognizance and under court orders allowing him to live with his parents. On Thursday, the judge handling the case will consider additional restrictions on Bankman-Fried’s bail after federal prosecutors raised concerns about his internet activities and contact with current and former FTX employees.

According to a new court filing, Bankman-Fried’s parents agreed not to allow him to use their phones and laptops and to install surveillance software on those devices that will photograph the device user every five years. 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 will receive a new laptop configured to allow access only to pre-approved websites, which are necessary for the preparation of the defense or for personal use, and do not pose a risk to the community.

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