Democrat megadonor Sam Bankman-Fried faces spending the rest of his life behind bars after an eight-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday against him in federal court.
A Manhattan federal grand jury charged Bankman-Fried, 30, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission and commit campaign finance violations, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried misappropriated billions of dollars of customer funds deposited into the cryptocurrency exchange that he founded, FTX, and lied to investors and lenders about the company and about his cryptocurrency hedge fund Alameda Research.
Bankman-Fried and his co-conspirators were deceiving and conning customers of FTX from the inception of the company, prosecutors said. He allegedly used billions of dollars from customers for his own personal use, to repay loans owed by Alameda Research, and to donate millions of dollars to political campaigns. Bankman-Fried was the Democrats’ second largest donor this last political cycle, donating tens of millions of dollars to Democrat candidates and left-wing groups.
Bankman-Fried also defrauded lenders to Alameda Research and equity investors in FTX by hiding his misuse of customer deposits, prosecutors alleged. Bankman-Fried tried to conceal the millions he gave to politicians by making his co-conspirators make the contributions under their names, say prosecutors.
Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison if convicted of the following crimes:
- Count One: Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud on Customers; up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Two: Wire Fraud on Customers; up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Three: Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud on Lenders; up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Four: Wire Fraud on Lenders; up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Five: Conspiracy to Commit Commodities Fraud, up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Six: Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud, up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Seven: Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
- Count Eight: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Violate the Campaign Finance Laws; up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
A judge denied Bankman-Fried bail due to him being a “great” flight risk.
“The Justice Department has filed charges alleging that Samuel Bankman-Fried perpetrated a range of offenses in a global scheme to deceive and defraud customers and lenders of FTX and Alameda, the defendant’s crypto hedge fund, as well as a conspiracy to defraud the United States government,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “We allege that the defendant conspired to defraud customers by misappropriating their deposits; to defraud lenders; to commit securities fraud and money laundering; and to violate campaign finance laws. As this indictment demonstrates, the U.S. Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and prosecute alleged criminal wrongdoing in the financial system and violations of federal elections laws. We will continue to work to ensure U.S. capital markets operate honestly and with the integrity that investors, lenders, and the American people are entitled to.”