NEW YORK — Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the cryptocurrency platform FTX, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to additional charges alleging that he committed bank fraud and bribed Chinese officials.
Bankman-Fried, who flew from his parents’ home in California where he is under house arrest, appeared in a Manhattan courtroom and entered the plea in response to the five new charges that federal prosecutors recently unveiled. He now faces a total of 13 criminal counts.
His attorney, Mark Cohen, indicated that he plans to challenge the new charges, which prosecutors filed after Bankman-Friend was extradited from the Bahamas.
In the newest charge, prosecutors alleged on Tuesday that the former billionaire bribed Chinese officials after his trading firm, Alameda Research, was locked out of trading accounts on two of China’s crypto exchanges.
After the officials received an initial $40 million payment and unlocked the accounts, Bankman-Fried directed his employees to transfer “tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe,” according to court documents.
Bankman-Fried nervously nodded and smiled at reporters as he entered the courtroom. He did not answer questions.
Cohen said he plans to challenge the charges based on extradition rules.
Because extradition treaties are cooperative agreements between two countries, both countries must agree to the charges and rules surrounding the surrender of a defendant. Cohen could argue that federal prosecutors skirted Bahamian authorities when bringing the additional charges. Bankman-Fried did not challenge his extradition, but handed himself over to U.S. authorities in December.
His criminal trial is scheduled to begin in October.
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