Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, facilitated hundreds of illegal political donations totaling tens of millions of dollars, court documents unsealed on Thursday have alleged.
The accusations were contained in a superseding indictment that contained four new charges.
“Exploiting the trust that FTX customers placed in him and his exchange, Bankman-Fried stole FTX customer deposits and used billions of dollars in stolen funds for a variety of purposes,” read the new indictment, which was filed on Wednesday.
Bankman-Fried was previously charged with eight counts of fraud, money laundering and other charges over the collapse of the now-bankrupt exchange. He has pleaded not guilty. He remains free on a $250m bond and under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.
The new charges include conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transfer business, according to ABC News.
Bankman-Fried was one of the most prolific donors to liberal candidates, but he and co-conspirators are alleged to have given more than 300 donations to candidates using the names of a straw donor.
Some of those gifts allowed Bankman-Fried to get around political donation limits, while others were illegal because they used corporate money, prosecutors said.
Because Bankman-Fried did not want to be affiliated with either Democratic or Republican candidates, prosecutors say, he coordinated the giving with two other FTX executives so he did not appear to be leaning one way or the other.
In 2022, Bankman-Fried wanted to make a donation of at least $1m to the super Pac of a US Senate candidate who was pro-LGBTQ+, according to the filing. A political consultant working with Bankman-Fried recommended the use of a straw donor.
“In general, you being the center left face of our spending will mean you giving to a lot of woke shit for transactional purposes,” the consultant told the straw donor, according to the indictment.
Though the donor was uncomfortable making the donation, prosecutors say, they agreed to do so, saying there wasn’t anyone “trusted at FTX [who was] bi/gay in a position to make the contribution”.
“The money used to make these political donations originated from Alameda bank accounts, and included funds that had been deposited by FTX customers,” the indictment says.
Bankman-Fried and co-conspirators concealed their donations by recording them as “loans” or “expenses” but there “there were no set interest rates, no interest payments, no collateral, and no evidence of repayment”, prosecutors say.
The new charges only add to the already significant legal trouble for Bankman-Fried, once considered a wunderkind of the cryptocurrency world.
Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried used the stolen customer funds to plug losses at Alameda Research, his hedge fund. Alameda’s former chief executive, Caroline Ellison, and a former FTX executive, Gary Wang, have both pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
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