(MENAFN) Samuel Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency trade platform FTX, has been charged by the US Justice Department with bribing Chinese officials. The charges were revealed in court documents released on Tuesday, which allege that Bankman-Fried "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 November 2021.
According to the court filing, Bankman-Fried attempted to unfreeze the accounts multiple times during China's crackdown on its domestic crypto industry. After these attempts failed, he discussed and ultimately agreed to direct a multi-million-dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the accounts. The Justice Department alleges that the former CEO transferred more than USD40 million worth of cryptocurrency to one or more Chinese government officials to "influence and induce them" to unfreeze the accounts that contained approximately USD1 billion worth of cryptocurrency.
Bankman-Fried now faces 13 charges involving the implosion of FTX. He had previously pleaded not guilty to eight charges in December and was released on USD250 million bail to remain in confinement at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California. Three former FTX executives that worked closely with Bankman-Fried have already 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 the court documents 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." These charges against FTX and Binance highlight the increasing regulatory scrutiny that the cryptocurrency industry is facing, as governments around the world attempt to rein in the sector and prevent illicit activities.
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