West News Wire: In an extended indictment that was released on Thursday, Sam Bankman-Fried was charged with additional crimes for allegedly plotting to make more than 300 unlawful political donations. He is the creator of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange.
Bankman-Fried was previously charged with eight counts but now faces twelve, including four counts of fraud and eight counts of conspiracy. He has pled not guilty to all of the allegations.
The 30-year-old former billionaire is under more strain now that two of his top lieutenants have already admitted guilt. He is also attempting to persuade the judge to keep him out on bond.
Bankman-spokesman Fried’s chose not to respond to questions.
Prosecutors said Bankman-Fried conspired with two other former FTX executives to donate tens of millions of dollars in order to influence lawmakers to pass legislation favourable to the company.
The donations were unlawful because they were made through “straw” donors or with corporate funds, often allowing Bankman-Fried to evade contribution limits, prosecutors said.
While Bankman-Fried was one of the largest donors to Democratic campaigns in the 2022 midterms, the indictment said he “did not want to be known as a left-leaning partisan, or to have his name publicly attached to Republican candidates.”
Prosecutors said that Bankman-Fried directed one executive to donate primarily to left-leaning candidates and organisations and the other to Republicans, with many donations funded by his Alameda Research hedge fund and including FTX customer funds.
After founding FTX in 2019, Bankman-Fried rode a boom in the value of Bitcoin and other digital assets to attain an estimated $26bn net worth.
The exchange collapsed in November amid a flurry of customer withdrawals over concerns the exchange was commingling assets with Alameda.
Bankman-Fried’s new indictment details how he allegedly used stolen FTX customer funds to plug losses at Alameda and fund donations, “exploiting the trust that FTX customers placed in him and his exchange”.
The additional charges include conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlicenced money-transmitting business.
Prosecutors said Bankman-Fried told an unnamed California bank that he wanted to open an account for a trading company, when in fact he would use the account to process deposits and withdrawals for FTX customers.
The bank had previously told him it was unwilling to process such transactions, prosecutors said.
Alameda’s former chief executive, Caroline Ellison, and a former FTX executive, Gary Wang, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in December and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.