Sam Bankman-Fried used stolen customer funds to make more than $100m in political campaign contributions ahead of the 2022 United States midterm elections, federal US prosecutors said on Monday in a new indictment filed against the FTX cryptocurrency exchange’s founder.
The indictment charges the 31-year-old former billionaire with seven counts of conspiracy and fraud over the collapse of the exchange.
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He has previously pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing billions in FTX customer funds to plug losses at Alameda Research, his crypto-focused hedge fund.
Mark Botnick, a spokesman for Bankman-Fried, declined to comment.
Bankman-Fried rode a boom in cryptocurrency values to amass a net worth estimated at $26bn and became an influential donor to mostly Democratic candidates and causes. But the November 2022 collapse of FTX – after a flurry of customer withdrawals due to concerns about the commingling of FTX and Alameda funds – decimated both his wealth and reputation.
In the superseding indictment filed on Monday, the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Bankman-Fried directed other FTX executives to make donations to evade contribution limits as part of a push for crypto-friendly regulation.
A superseding indictment amends and replaces the original document and lists the formal charges against the defendant.
“He leveraged this influence, in turn, to lobby Congress and regulatory agencies to support legislation and regulation he believed would make it easier for FTX to continue to accept customer deposits and grow,” the indictment read.
Prosecutors initially charged him with violating US campaign finance laws but dropped that charge in late July after the Bahamas said it had never intended to extradite Bankman-Fried to the US on that charge. FTX was based in the Bahamas and Bankman-Fried was arrested there last December.
In a letter last week to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, prosecutors indicated they would soon file a new indictment that “will make clear that Mr. Bankman-Fried remains charged with conducting an illegal campaign finance scheme as part of the fraud and money laundering schemes originally charged.”
Kaplan on Friday ordered Bankman-Fried jailed ahead of his October 2 trial, after finding probable cause to believe he had tampered with witnesses twice. He had been largely confined to his parents’ Palo Alto, California home on a $250m bond since his extradition.