(Bloomberg) -- Sam Bankman-Fried already was facing more than a century behind bars if convicted of all the charges outlined against him when he was arrested in December. The addition of a charge that he bribed Chinese officials once again raises the stakes for the FTX founder as he fights accusations that he orchestrated one of the largest financial frauds in US history.
Prosecutors on Tuesday unsealed a new indictment accusing Bankman-Fried of bribing Chinese officials with $40 million in cryptocurrency to unfreeze accounts in 2021. He now faces a total of 13 counts ranging from conspiracy to commit wire fraud to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and faces more than 155 years in prison if convicted of all of them - although any sentence is likely to be much lower if he is found guilty.
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The charges against Bankman-Fried can be grouped into four general categories - fraud, money laundering, campaign finance violations and bribery allegations.
- The most serious group of charges against Bankman-Fried are the accusations that he defrauded FTX customers and investors - as well as lenders of its sister trading house, Alameda Research. Of the 13 counts, nine involve alleged fraud - including conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. If found guilty of all nine, he faces a maximum of more than 100 years in prison.
- Bankman-Fried is potentially subject to another quarter-century behind bars should he be convicted of two other counts - conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum of five years in prison, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, for which the punishment could be as long as 20 years.
- He faces another five years if found guilty of charges that he illegally sought to influence the path of cryptocurrency regulation in Washington by making millions of dollars in donations to Democrats and Republicans, which were added in a revised indictment in February, and another five years if convicted of bribery.
While Congress sets statutory maximum criminal sentences, many people found guilty of white-collar crimes face punishments that are much shorter than those outlined in federal law. Sentences can also vary greatly based on the circumstances of the offenses. If convicted, a defendant’s ultimate fate will be decided by a federal judge, who will make a determination based on submissions from prosecutors and defense attorneys that take into account factors including criminal history and the size of any loss or gain from the alleged conduct.
Some white-collar defendants have earned outsized sentences — such as Shalom Weiss, a financier convicted for racketeering and fraud linked to the collapse of the National Heritage Life Insurance Co. who received 845 years in 2000, and Bernie Madoff, who died in prison while serving a 150-year term for his $20 billion Ponzi scheme that collapsed in 2008. But most convicted of such crimes serve much less time.
The case is US v. Bankman-Fried, 22-cr-673, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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