FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried charged with campaign finance violations in criminal indictment

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, speaks during the Institute of International Finance (IIF) annual membership meeting in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who made nearly $40 million in publicly disclosed political donations in the 2022 election cycle, with violating multiple campaign finance laws.

A newly unsealed indictment in Manhattan federal court says Bankman-Fried and others violated numerous federal campaign finance laws, including giving contributions of at least $25,000 to campaigns and political action committees “in the names of other persons.”

Prosecutors said there was a conspiracy by Bankman-Fried and others to also make “corporate contributions” to candidates and political action committees in the Southern District of New York “that were reported in the name of another person.

The campaign finance conspiracy charge, which is included among multiple other criminal counts against the fallen crypto exchange CEO, comes days after a private watchdog group asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate Bankman-Fried for campaign finance violations.

The watchdog, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Bankman-Fried admitted he donated so-called dark money to Republican-aligned groups during the 2022 primary season. Those donations would not have been disclosed in FEC filings.

The complaint by the group quotes an interview last month by Bankman-Fried. That interview suggests he donated up to $37 million or more to GOP-linked campaign efforts in a manner that avoided legally required public disclosure of those contribution, CREW alleged.

Most of Bankman-Fried’s publicly disclose campaign contributions went toward Democrats, FEC records show.

But FTX itself donated $1 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

That source of that contribution, according to the filing, is labeled as being from West Realm Shires Services, the trading name for FTX.

West Realm Shires Services also contributed $750,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that backs Republicans running for House seats and supported by the House Republican leadership.

Follow CNBC’s live blog covering Tuesday’s hearing on the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX before the House Financial Services Committee.

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