Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of failed crypto firm FTX, has been accused of bribing at least one Chinese official.
In new charges unveiled in the US, officials accuse the entrepreneur of authorising a bribe of “at least $40m” (£32.5m) to try to gain access to trading accounts frozen by Chinese authorities. The allegations add to the fraud case filed last year after FTX’s collapse.
Mr Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to those claims earlier this year. He is currently under house arrest at his parents’ home in California while awaiting trial.
He faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted.
The updated indictment says Mr Bankman-Fried authorised the bribe after Chinese authorities froze accounts holding roughly $1bn (£811m) worth of cryptocurrency that belonged to his trading firm, Alameda Research.
The accounts were released after the transfer, which went to a private cryptocurrency wallet, according to the filing.
The alleged bribe followed months of other efforts to access the funds, which Mr Bankman-Fried believed were frozen as part of an investigation into another trading firm, it said.
The incident happened before FTX’s dramatic collapse last year, when reports about the company’s finances led to a rush of withdrawals, pushing the firm into bankruptcy.
In the wake of the collapse, which left many people unable to access their funds, the US filed criminal charges against Mr Bankman-Fried, accusing him of improperly using customer deposits at FTX to fund his other firm, Alameda Research, buy property and make millions in political donations.
The episode cast a dark cloud over the crypto industry, which was already suffering from big falls in the values of Bitcoin and other assets.
It was also a sharp fall from grace for Mr Bankman-Fried, who had been one of the most high-profile figures in the sector, leading an exchange which had more than 1 million users and ranked as the world’s third largest trading platform by some measures.
Mr Bankman-Fried has acknowledged lapses in management, but denied fraud. Three of his closest colleagues have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with investigators.