Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of bankrupt FTX exchange, plans to plead not guilty to recent charges brought against him by US prosecutors, which include unlawful political donations and alleged bribery of Chinese officials. He is scheduled to stand trial for various criminal charges in October.
Bankman-Fried to Plead Not Guilty to 13-Count Charges
According to a report by Reuters on Thursday (March 30, 2023), an anonymous source revealed that Bankman-Fried is planning to plead not guilty to 13 new criminal charges, including bribing Chinese government officials and violating campaign finance laws.
In February 2023, a superseding indictment alleged that Bankman-Fried conspired with two FTX executives to make over 300 political donations worth tens of millions of dollars, which exceeded the limit for individual campaign contributions. The illegal donations were done using straw donors or corporate funds, according to the indictment.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) later filed another lawsuit against Bankman-Fried in March, claiming that he bribed Chinese government officials with $40 million to unfreeze Alameda Research’s accounts, which held over $1 billion in crypto and were frozen around November 2021.
Alameda Money Reportedly Used to Fund SBF Legal Fees
While three close associates of Bankman-Fried, namely Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh, have all pleaded guilty to charges relating to fraud and are cooperating with US prosecutors, the FTX founder has pleaded not guilty. In January, he pleaded not guilty to allegations including wire fraud, money laundering, and misappropriation of customer funds for personal use.
Bankman-Fried was arrested in December by Bahamian authorities and later extradited to the United States after his crypto exchange collapsed in November 2022. He was released on a $250 million bail, which was signed by his parents and two Stanford University academics, Dr. Andreas Paepcke and Larry Kramer.
Meanwhile, Bankman-Fried’s trial date is set for October 2, 2023. However, reports suggest that his attorneys are saying the trial date may be shifted as they need more time to review the evidence and prepare a defense.
In addition, recent reports state that Bankman-Fried is paying his legal fees with the money previously gifted to his father, Joseph Bankman, which came from funds borrowed from Alameda.