By Ovunc Kutlu
ISTANBUL (AA) - FTX's founder and former CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried was charged by the US Justice Department with bribing Chinese officials, according to court documents released Tuesday.
The disgraced former head of the cryptocurrency trade platform "conspired to bribe one or more Chinese government officials" to regain access to his hedge fund Alameda Research's trading accounts that had been frozen by Chinese authorities in or around November 2021, said the filing in the US District Court Southern District of New York.
After many attempts to unfreeze the accounts failed during China's tough crackdown on its domestic crypto industry, "Bankman-Fried discussed with others and ultimately agreed to and directed a multi-million-dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the accounts," it said.
The Justice Department alleges that the former CEO transferred more than $40 million worth of cryptocurrency to one or more Chinese government officials to "influence and induce them" to unfreeze the accounts that contained approximately $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency.
Bankman-Fried, who turned 31 earlier this month, now faces 13 charges involving the implosion of FTX.
After pleading not guilty to eight charges in December, he was released on $250 million bail to remain in confinement at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.
A total of three former FTX executives that worked closely with Bankman-Fried have pleaded guilty amid the company's sudden collapse, which was once the world's third-largest cryptocurrency exchange platform by daily trading volume.
The release of recent court documents about Bankman-Fried comes one day after the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange platform, with "willful evasion of federal law" and "operating an illegal digital asset derivatives exchange."