Sam Bankman-Fried allegedly used more than $100 million in user funds “in campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans to seek to influence cryptocurrency regulation.”
The United States Attorney’s Office has released a new superseding indictment against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, which includes allegations of campaign finance law violations as part of a wire fraud scheme.
In an Aug. 14 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams charged Bankman-Fried, who also goes by “SBF,” with seven counts nearly identical to those he had faced upon arrival in the U.S. from the Bahamas in December 2022. However, following a legal battle in which SBF’s defense team argued he should not face a charge for violation of campaign finance laws, as it was not included in the extradition agreement, prosecutors said they would consider the scheme as evidence in a wire fraud charge.
According to the superseding indictment, Bankman-Fried “misappropriated and embezzled FTX customer deposits,” resulting in more than $100 million being used “in campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans to seek to influence cryptocurrency regulation.” Prosecutors alleged SBF also concealed the source of these contributions by placing them in the names of certain FTX executives, including former engineering director Nishad Singh.
“By directing donations through Singh and another FTX executive, Bankman-Fried was able to evade restrictions on certain types of political contributions, and thereby maximize FTX’s political influence,” said the indictment. “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, which would, in turn, allow the misappropriation scheme to continue.”
Prior to the collapse of FTX in November 2022, SBF said he had been planning to donate between $100 million and $1 billion to political campaigns influencing the 2024 elections. He donated more than $5 million to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden for his 2020 campaign and said he had been a “significant donor” to both Democratic and Republican candidates.
The superseding indictment was the latest in the charges Bankman-Fried faces since his extradition to the U.S. in December 2022. Prosecutors originally charged SBF with eight counts related to fraud at FTX — including conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws — later filing a superseding indictment in February with 12 counts, then another superseding indictment in March with 13 counts, adding one for allegedly bribing a Chinese government official.
Bankman-Fried had been free on bail before Judge Lewis Kaplan remanded him to custody on Aug. 11, citing concerns about alleged attempts to intimidate or influence witnesses in his criminal cases. His two trials are scheduled to begin in October 2023 and March 2024.