Sam Bankman-Fried Faces New Allegations: DOJ Claims Stolen Funds Used for Political Donations

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Getty Image

Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of now-defunct crypto exchange FTX, is facing new allegations from the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the embezzlement of customer funds. 

According to an indictment filed on Monday, Bankman-Fried is accused of misappropriating and embezzling customer deposits from FTX, using the stolen funds to make over $100 million in political campaign contributions ahead of the 2022 US midterm elections.

The indictment states that Bankman-Fried was well aware of FTX’s financial shortfall, which was caused by his own misappropriation of customer funds. 

Despite the collapse of FTX in November 2022, he continued to use the embezzled money for his personal investments, acquisitions, and campaign contributions.

“Yet he continued through FTX’s collapse in November 2022 to use misappropriated customer funds to pay for his investments, acquisitions, and campaign contributions,” Monday’s indictment read. 

The DOJ claims that Bankman-Fried’s political donations were aimed at influencing cryptocurrency regulation, with contributions made to both Democrats and Republicans. 

“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 said.

Bankman-Fried, a former Jane Street trader and MIT graduate, initially claimed to have donated money solely to the Democratic Party. 

However, after the downfall of FTX, he admitted to donating to Republicans as well. 

The DOJ initially indicted Bankman-Fried on eight counts near the end of 2022. Prosecutors later added five charges, but Bankman-Fried’s defense team argued that they should not be included in the original indictment that served as the legal basis for his extradition to the US.

In late July, prosecutors dropped a campaign finance charge against Bankman-Fried citing “treaty obligations” with The Bahamas.

However, the DOJ announced last week that they would resume the charge alongside fraud and money laundering allegations. 

Bankman-Fried Jailed Amid Witness Tempering Concerns

Last week, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan sent Bankman-Fried back to jail over alleged witness tampering.

The judge said that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant attempted to tamper with witnesses on at least two occasions.

The move came after the DOJ requested the judge last month to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bond and jail him before his scheduled trial in October. 

At the time, the prosecutors argued that Bankman-Fried’s decision to share diaries belonging to former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison with the New York Times formed witness tampering. 

“The defendant’s leaking of Ellison’s private writings is yet another instance of the defendant trying to intimidate and corruptly persuade Ellison with respect to her upcoming trial testimony, as well as an effort to influence or prevent the testimony of other potential trial witnesses by creating the specter that their most intimate business is at risk of being reported in the press,” the DOJ said.

Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled to begin in October.