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Disgraced FTX Founder ‘Conspired to Bribe’ Chinese Communist Party Officials With $40+ Million: DOJ

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: March 28, 2023
The disgraced Sam Bankman-Fried bribed Chinese Communist Party officials with $40 million in 2021, the DOJ alleges.
Sam Bankman-Fried (center), founder of the failed FTX digital currency exchange and the Alameda Research scheme, arrives at U.S. Federal Court in New York in February of 2023. Bankman-Fried funneled more than $40 million in digital currency to Chinese Communist Party officials as a bribe after mainland China exchanges seized Alameda accounts in early 2021, the Department of Justice alleges in new filings. (Image: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

The disgraced former center of the digital currency universe, Sam Bankman-Fried, a 31-year-old who passed himself off as a trading wunderkind but was actually just spending customer deposits and client funds as a personal credit card in a multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme operation, also paid more than $40 million in bribes to Chinese Communist Party officials, new court filings from the U.S. Department of Justice allege.

The Superseding Indictment making the new allegations in an ongoing criminal case was made public on March 28 where the DOJ states Bankman-Fried “conspired to bribe one or more Chinese government officials in order to regain access to Alameda trading accounts that had been frozen by” what the Department referred to as “Chinese law enforcement authorities.”


Alameda refers to Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research fund, which was the man’s claim to fame before founding the FTX digital currency exchange that was most notable for an advertising campaign so ubiquitous that Major League Baseball umpires wore its logo on their uniform.

The DOJ’s case alleges that FTX and Alameda were supposed to be totally separate entities from each other, but Bankman-Fried used customer deposits to the exchange to fund Alameda while simultaneously liquidating Alameda for personal reasons.

The bribe was highly significant, the DOJ alleges, stating that “SBF” as he was known in the community, “authorized and directed a bribe of at least $40 million to one or more Chinese government officials” at an undefined period in 2021.

The Indictment continues, “The purpose of the bribe was to influence and induce one or more Chinese government officials to unfreeze certain Alameda trading accounts containing over $1 billion in cryptocurency, which had been frozen by Chinese authorities.”

SBF needed to regain the money in order to keep SBF and Alameda afloat and bringing in new clients, the DOJ claims.

Federal prosecutors appear to allege that once FTX began to collapse after a company balance sheet showing the exchange was under-collateralized caused a bank run in November of 2022, SBF transferred a curiously-sized $45 million from Alameda’s customer funds to FTX to fill the hole.

Afterwards, Bankman-Fried “doubled down on his fraudulent schemes by soliciting billions of dollars in additional capital investments from existing and potential investors in FTX, many of whom he had previously defrauded,” the filings allege.

“In soliciting this additional capital, BANKMAN-FRIED made more false representations to potential investors about the source of the multi-billion-dollar hole in FTX’s balance sheet caused by his misappropriation of customer deposits and his own knowledge of how the hole originated,” the DOJ continued.

Moreover, the DOJ charges that Bankman-Fried personally directed the misappropriation of FTX customer deposits, “Rather, with the knowledge and under the supervision of BANKMAN-FRIED, Alameda commingled FTX customer funds with Alameda assets in Alameda accounts.”

Before the allegations that Bankman-Fried paid off CCP officials, one of the most primary uses of the embezzlement was “to bankroll tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions,” primarily to U.S. Democrats, “made in the names of individuals but in fact funded from Alameda accounts.”

Specifics of the bribe, the DOJ alleges, involve Communist Party officials seizing Alameda accounts that operated on two mainland Chinese digital currency exchanges “as part of an ongoing investigation of a particular Alameda trading counterparty” in the early part of 2021.

SBF and Alameda desperately tried everything they could to get the money back while avoiding paying off the Party’s corrupt officials, including hiring mainland lawyers, lobbying and advocacy activities, and even creating fraudulent accounts on the exchanges using identities of people unaffiliated with FTX and Alameda and attempting to transfer the funds to them “in an effort to circumvent the Chinese authorities freeze orders.”

After the dance lasted for several months, a desperate and unsuccessful SBF “discussed with others and ultimately agreed to and directed a multi-million-dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the Accounts,” the Justice Department claims.

Specifically, Bankman-Fried ordered what was described as the “illicit transfer of cryptocurrency,” which was “intended to induce and influence one or more Chinese government officials.”

Alameda employees then transferred $40 million worth of digital currency to “a private cryptocurrency wallet.” The DOJ continued, “At or around the time of the $40 million bribe payment, the Accounts were unfrozen.”

But the fine print of the indictment also shows that once the accounts were unfrozen, SBF “authorized the transfer of additional tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe.”

The DOJ claims that once the funds were recovered, SBF immediately used them to continue to finance the unprofitable trading activity that, in combination with a smorgasbord spider web of political donations and suspect company acquisitions, ultimately led to Alameda’s insolvency and its need to be sustained by FTX customer deposits.