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Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to new federal charges

<i>Drew Angerer/Getty Images</i><br/>Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud and bribery charges on Thursday.
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud and bribery charges on Thursday.

By Kara Scannell, CNN

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of failed cryptocurrency trading platform FTX, pleaded not guilty to five new federal charges of fraud and conspiracy, including one count of conspiring to bribe Chinese government officials.

An attorney for Bankman-Fried entered the plea on his behalf of his client, who was seated beside him in the New York courtroom Thursday. He previously pleaded not guilty to eight other charges stemming from what prosecutors have described as one of the biggest financial frauds in US history.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors tacked on a 13th criminal charge against Bankman-Fried, accusing him of bribing “one or more” Chinese government officials with $40 million worth of cryptocurrency.

In the latest indictment, prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried sought to pay off Chinese officials to unfreeze accounts belonging to his hedge fund, Alameda Research. The accounts, which the Chinese government had frozen, held more than $1 billion worth of digital assets, prosecutors say.

The accounts were released after the payment was transferred in from Alameda’s main trading account to a private cryptocurrency wallet, according to the indictment.

FTX’s demise

Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried stole FTX customer deposits to finance risky bets at his hedge fund, Alameda Research, and to funnel contributions to American politicians.

FTX had been one of the buzziest and biggest platforms for trading digital assets before it collapsed into bankruptcy in November.

The 31-year-old Bankman-Fried is out of jail on a $250 million bond, awaiting trial under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California. Bankman-Fried, whose metoric rise and sudden downfall late last year shocked the crypto community, previously acknowledged mishandling his business but has denied engaging in fraud.

Three of Bankman-Fried’s former business partners — Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison and Nishad Singh — have pleaded guilty to numerous charges and are cooperating with investigators.

If convicted on all counts, he could face more than 155 years in prison. A trial has been scheduled for October.

— CNN’s Allison Morrow contributed reporting.

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