UNITED STATES NEWS

Campaign finance charge dropped from case against Sam Bankman-Fried

Jul 27, 2023, 1:51 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried will no longer face a campaign finance charge at an October criminal trial, federal prosecutors say, citing a decision by Bahamian authorities to reject a count in the indictment that was not listed on the warrant against him when he was extradited to the United States in December.

Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in a letter that the government in the Bahamas notified it on Wednesday that authorities there did not consider the charge to be included in Bankman-Fried’s extradition. Thus, prosecutors wrote, they would not pursuit it at the trial, in keeping with U.S. treaty obligations to the Bahamas.

Bankman-Fried, 31, has been confined to his parent’s Palo Alto, California, home as part of a $250 million bail package that prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to revoke. Prosecutors say his extensive contact with the news media demonstrates an effort to affect the jury pool. His lawyers deny it. The judge has imposed a gag rule while he decides the issue.

The man once viewed as a crypto guru has pleaded not guilty to charges that he cheated investors and looted FTX customer deposits to fund lavish lifestyles for some of those who aided his dramatic rise in the cryptocurrency world. FTX entered bankruptcy in November when the global exchange ran out of money after the equivalent of a bank run.

In early May, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers sought dismissal of a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and violate campaign finance laws, the eighth count in the original indictment against him, saying it was not included in a “Warrant of Surrender” that described the other seven charges he would face in the U.S.

They said permitting the charge to proceed against him would set a “concerning precedent that would enable prosecutors to engage in a bait-and-switch” in which they obtain the extradition of a defendant by including charges they know the extraditing state would approve, only to add charges at a late date that were likely to be disapproved.

The charge, which carries a potential for up to five years in prison after a conviction, pertained to the government’s claim that Bankman-Fried enabled over $100 million siphoned from Alameda Research to fund over 300 political contributions that were unlawful because they were made in the name of straw donors or came from corporate funds.

In an indictment, prosecutors said Bankman-Fried made the contributions to improve his personal standing in Washington, D.C., to increase FTX’s profile and to “curry favor with candidates” who might help pass legislation favorable to FTX, including legislation concerning regulatory oversight over FTX and its industry.

The indictment said Bankman-Fried became one of the largest publicly reported political donors to the 2022 midterm elections as he caused substantial contributions to be made in support of candidates to Democrats and Republicans, and across the political spectrum.

“Bankman-Fried, however, did not want to be known as a left-leaning partisan, or to have his name publicly attached to Republican candidates,” prosecutors wrote.

Michael Zweiback, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and a former federal prosecutor who once headed the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section in California’s Central District, said the prosecution’s withdrawal of the campaign finance charge will not stop them from introducing facts pertaining to it at trial.

“That evidence is not excluded just because the charges have been dismissed,” he said. “The evidence of the systematic campaign donations are all part and parcel of describing the nature of the fraudulent scheme and therefore would be admissible.”

Zweiback said the dropping of the charge from the October trial and a related charge in a superseding indictment that could go to trial next year “will not impact the case” — or the more serious charges that led U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in New York to call it one of the largest financial crimes in history.

He said campaign finance evidence will likely be used to show the jury how Bankman-Fried planned to “continue his grip on the industry.” Zweiback added that they’ll want to show jurors that his plans included soliciting “favor and influence with politicians.”

United States News

FILE - Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchora...

Associated Press

Alaska election officials to recalculate signatures for ranked vote repeal measure after court order

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge on Friday disqualified numerous booklets used to gather signatures for an initiative that aims to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system and gave elections officials a deadline to determine if the measure still had sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The decision by Superior Court […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

UN approves more transparent procedures for people and entities to get off its sanctions lists

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved more transparent procedures Friday for the hundreds of individuals, companies and other entities who are subject to U.N. sanctions and want to get off the blacklists. The resolution, co-sponsored by Malta and the United States, also authorizes the establishment of a new informal working […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee meeting, Dec. 13...

Associated Press

Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had pancreatic cancer, has died

Longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who helped lead federal efforts to protect women from domestic violence and recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, has died. She was 74. Lillie Conley, her chief of staff, confirmed Friday night that Jackson Lee, who had pancreatic cancer, had died. The Democrat had represented her Houston-based […]

5 hours ago

Stools line the bar at Elwood's Liquor and Tap on Thursday, July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wis. This w...

Associated Press

Outside the RNC, small Milwaukee businesses and their regulars tried to salvage a sluggish week

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jay Nelson was standing outside the convenience store he manages in downtown Milwaukee when one of his regular customers walked by on her daily stroll around the neighborhood. “I’ve been telling people to come and buy even just a bottle of wine,” she said, stretching out her arms. “I hope it helps.” […]

5 hours ago

Descendants of Nelson Bell, brothers Milford Fonza, front left, and Elmer Fonza, front right, surro...

Associated Press

In a California gold rush town, some Black families are fighting for land taken from their ancestors

COLOMA, Calif. (AP) — In a tiny town where the California gold rush began, Black families are seeking restitution for land that was taken from their ancestors to make way for a state park now frequented by fourth graders learning about the state’s history. Their efforts in Coloma, a town of around 300 people that’s […]

5 hours ago

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a ...

Associated Press

Russia convicts US journalist of spying in a trial widely seen as politically motivated

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was convicted Friday of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in a maximum-security prison on charges that his employer and the U.S. government have rejected as fabricated.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Campaign finance charge dropped from case against Sam Bankman-Fried