Former cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried has been hit with another federal charge: bribery.
In a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday, federal prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of bribing a government official in China.
According to the new indictment, Bankman-Fried successfully bribed at least one Chinese government official with a $40 million payment in 2021.
Bankman-Fried is currently awaiting trial after being charged with a host of crimes related to the mismanagement and collapse of FTX, previously one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency firms, which he co-founded, as well as his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Bankman-Fried’s attorneys did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
After Chinese authorities froze several Alameda accounts worth more than $1 billion, Bankman-Fried directed an employee to make bribery payments to at least one government official there, the indictment says. The Alameda accounts were held in two major Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges.
“After confirmation that the accounts were unfrozen, Bankman-Fried authorized the transfer of additional tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe,” it says.
The alleged bribe appears to have been a last resort. Bankman-Fried initially tried several other methods to unfreeze the funds, the indictment says. Those tactics included hiring attorneys to lobby for him in China and opening up accounts on those Chinese exchanges using the personal information of several unnamed people who were unaffiliated with his companies.
The bribery allegation is the most recent in a growing list of criminal charges that Bankman-Fried now faces. He was first arrested in December by U.S. authorities and extradited from the Bahamas to the U.S.
He has been charged by the Southern District Court of New York with a variety of crimes including defrauding investors and committing wire fraud as part of what the Securities and Exchange Commissioner called “a yearslong fraud.”
He has also been charged with making illegal campaign contributions.
Under new leadership, FTX declared bankruptcy and is in the process of unwinding the business and recovering its remaining assets.
Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty eight counts of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy. He is out on bail under terms that were recently revised to allow him access to a basic phone and computer.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.