FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, one of the most prominent figures in the cryptocurrency industry, has been accused of attempting to bribe Chinese officials in order to receive preferential treatment for his company. The allegations were made in a report by the Financial Times, which cited sources familiar with the matter.
According to the report, Bankman-Fried allegedly offered a substantial bribe to a senior Chinese official in order to receive special treatment for FTX in the country. The official in question has not been named but is said to be a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s top echelon.
The alleged bribe occurred in late 2020 when Bankman-Fried was seeking approval from Chinese authorities to operate FTX in the country. The report claims that Bankman-Fried was introduced to the official by a prominent business figure in China, who was also a shareholder in FTX.
The Financial Times report also alleges that Bankman-Fried made a series of payments to the business figure, who then passed the funds on to the official. The report claims that the payments totaled several million dollars.
Bankman-Fried has denied the allegations, stating that he has never offered or paid a bribe to any Chinese official. In a statement to the Financial Times, he said: “I have never given anything of value to any public official in exchange for anything. Nor have I been asked to do so, nor has any public official suggested I do so.”
The allegations against Bankman-Fried come at a time when Chinese authorities are cracking down on cryptocurrency trading and mining in the country. In recent months, China has banned cryptocurrency mining in several provinces and has also imposed restrictions on trading platforms.
FTX, which is based in Hong Kong, has not been directly impacted by the recent crackdown on cryptocurrency in China. However, the company has faced regulatory hurdles in other countries, including the United States.
The allegations against Bankman-Fried are serious and, if proven to be true, could have significant repercussions for FTX and the wider cryptocurrency industry. Bribery is a criminal offense in China and can result in severe penalties for those found guilty.
The cryptocurrency industry has long been associated with shady dealings and illicit activities, and the allegations against Bankman-Fried will do little to dispel this reputation. However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of cryptocurrency companies and investors operate within the bounds of the law and are working to build a legitimate and sustainable industry.
The allegations against Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX are a stark reminder of the cryptocurrency industry’s challenges. While the industry has made significant progress in recent years, it still faces regulatory hurdles and reputational challenges. It is up to industry leaders to work together to address these challenges and build a sustainable and responsible industry.