San Francisco– Sam Bankman-Fried, the former founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has now been charged with bribing Chinese officials to the tune of $40 million.

The US Department of Justice has alleged that Bankman-Fried “authorised and directed a bribe of at least $40 million to one or more Chinese government officials”.

According to The Verge, the bribe by Bankman-Fried was an attempt to get Chinese officials to “unfreeze” some of the accounts associated with FTX’s sister firm, Alameda, which contained over $1 billion in cryptocurrency.

The Justice Department said the Bankman-Fried wanted access to the funds in order to assist Alameda “in obtaining and retaining business”.

“After confirmation that the Accounts were unfrozen, Bankman-Fried authorised the transfer of additional tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe,” the DOJ indictment read.

“Alameda used the unfrozen cryptocurrency to fund additional Alameda trading activity,” it added.

Bankman-Fried has also been charged with four additional counts of fraud, including unlawful political contributions leading up to the 2022 midterm elections.

According to a new filing from the Southern District of New York attorney’s office, Bankman-Fried used the FTX customer funds he misappropriated, and was used in the unlawful political influence campaign, which involved flooding the political system with tens of millions of dollars in illegal contributions to both Democrats and Republicans.

He now faces allegations that he led a fraud designed to hide from FTX investors the fact that their funds were being redirected to SBF’s Alameda crypto hedge fund.

With these new charges, Bankman-Fried has been accused of defrauding the Federal Elections Committee (FEC), along with additional counts related to wire fraud and money laundering.

Bankman-Fried is currently living with his parents in California on a $250 million bail.

He was arrested in the Bahamas on December 12, 2022 and extradited to the US on December 21.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges. (IANS)