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SBF saga heats up with new bribery, bail and legal fund developments

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(Kitco News) - Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, faces a new charge from the U.S. Justice Department for bribery of foreign government officials.

A new superseding indictment filed yesterday by United States Attorney Damian Williams alleges that SBF and other parties at FTX and Alameda “directed and caused the transfer of at least approximately $40 million in cryptocurrency intended for the benefit of one or more Chinese government officials” in 2021.

The cryptocurrency was transferred from Alameda's main trading account to a private wallet in an attempt to persuade Chinese government officials to unfreeze Alameda accounts on “two of China’s largest crypto exchanges” which contained over $1 billion in cryptocurrency.

“After months of failed attempts to unfreeze the accounts, Samuel Bankman-Fried discussed with others and ultimately agreed to and directed a multi-million-dollar bribe to seek to unfreeze the accounts,” the filing read. The accounts were unfrozen after the bribe was received, after which Alameda accessed the cryptocurrency and used it for their trading activities.

Bankman-Fried will be arraigned on the new indictment before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan on Thursday. He has already pleaded not guilty to eight of the 13 counts he faces, with the latest bribery conspiracy and previous campaign finance charges awaiting a plea.

Judge Kaplan also modified Bankman-Fried's bail conditions on Tuesday in an effort to prevent him from tampering with witnesses for his upcoming criminal trial in October.

The new conditions limit SBF to “a new phone with no internet capability and a basic laptop with limited functions.” The phone will only be able to perform voice calls and conventional text messages, with all other messaging apps disabled, and the laptop will have monitoring software to track his activity. He will be prohibited from using other electronic communication devices.

As SBF’s legal troubles continue to grow, new revelations have emerged which explain how he could be paying his mounting legal bills. According to a report from Forbes, Bankman-Fried has been paying his legal fees out of a $11.7-million-dollar gift he made to his father, Stanford Law professor Joseph Bankman, with money borrowed from Alameda in 2021.

According to two sources who spoke to Forbes, Bankman-Fried used his lifetime estate and gift tax exemption to transfer the funds to Bankman, making it a tax-free gift.

At the time of writing, neither Bankman-Fried or his lawyers have issued a comment.

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