20221215 sam bankman-fried
Overall, the new indictment contains four fraud charges and eight conspiracy charges. Image Credit: Reuters

New York: Sam Bankman-Fried and his co-conspirators made more than 300 illegal political donations in the United States, according to a new indictment against the FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder unsealed on Thursday in Manhattan federal court.

The donations, totaling tens of millions of dollars, were unlawful because they were attributed to a "straw donor" or made using corporate funds, often allowing Bankman-Fried to evade contribution limits on individual contributions to candidates, prosecutors said.

Overall, the new indictment contains four fraud charges and eight conspiracy charges.

Bankman-Fried was previously hit with eight counts of fraud, money laundering and other charges over the collapse of the now-bankrupt exchange. He has pleaded not guilty in those cases.

Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried used the stolen customer funds to plug losses at Alameda Research, his hedge fund. Alameda's former chief executive, Caroline Ellison, and a former FTX executive, Gary Wang, have both pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

"Exploiting the trust that FTX customers placed in him and his exchange, Bankman-Fried stole FTX customer deposits, and used billions of dollars in stolen funds for a variety of purposes," reads the new indictment, which was filed on Wednesday.

After founding FTX in 2019, Bankman-Fried rode a boom in the value of Bitcoin and other digital assets to attain an estimated $26 billion net worth. He also became an influential political donor in the United States until the exchange collapsed in November amid a flurry of customer withdrawals.

The new indictment hit Bankman-Fried with additional charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

A spokesman for Bankman-Fried did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Mark Porter)