US prosecutors drop campaign finance charges against SBF

The US government said it confirmed that the Bahamas did not extradite Sam Bankman-Fried on an unlawful campaign contributions count

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Isabelle OHara/Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks

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The Department of Justice has dropped its plan to charge former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried with unlawful campaign contributions.

On Wednesday, US Attorney Damian Williams disclosed that the Bahamas informed the government of its decision not to extradite Bankman-Fried on this particular charge.

“Accordingly, in keeping with its treaty obligations to The Bahamas, the Government does not intend to proceed to trial on the campaign contributions count,” Williams said in a July 26 letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas in December on request from the US government over the collapse of crypto exchange FTX.

The former FTX CEO was initially brought to the US facing eight charges, including a conspiracy to commit campaign finance violations.

The case expanded over time as prosecutors added five more counts in February, including securities fraud and conspiracy to violate anti-bribery laws, alleging a $40 million payment to influence Chinese officials.
But his counsel moved to dismiss many of those charges. As per the treaty between the two countries, the Bahamas must consent to any charges filed after extradition, as explained by the lawyers.

“After Mr. Bankman-Fried properly consented to a simplified extradition procedure, the Bahamian government agreed to release him to U.S. authorities and issued a warrant of surrender specifying that he be tried on seven of the eight counts in the Original Indictment –– but not the count relating to alleged campaign finance violations,” his lawyers wrote

On June 15, Judge Kaplan separated those charges from the October trial after the government agreed to sever some of the post-extradition counts for a later trial. This decision was made “in light of the uncertainty” over whether The Bahamas consented to those additional charges.

On June 27, Judge Kaplan rejected Bankman-Fried’s motions to dismiss 10 of the counts, which included allegations of campaign finance and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

As per Williams’ letter on Wednesday, the uncertainty from the Bahamas has now been resolved. 

The government has received confirmation that The Bahamas did not plan to extradite Bankman-Fried on the campaign contributions count, he said.

Judge issues gag-order for Bankman-Fried, considers jail time

The notification arrived shortly after a hearing Wednesday regarding Bankman-Fried’s purported efforts to discredit witnesses, including former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison.

On Wednesday, Prosecutor Danielle Sassoon urged the judge to order Bankman-Fried’s detention before the scheduled October trial, citing concerns that “no set of release conditions can ensure the safety of the community.”

Sassoon’s request to jail Bankman-Fried came after he shared Ellison’s personal writings with a New York Times reporter. In a Google document provided to the NYT, Ellison expressed feeling unhappy and overwhelmed with her job at Alameda, and questioned her suitability for the role.

In light of the request, Judge Kaplan imposed stricter bail conditions on Bankman-Fried, including limiting his public communication.

Kaplan stated he will evaluate the possibility of imprisonment before the October trial. Both sides have been given until Aug. 3 to present their opinion on whether jailing is necessary for Bankman-Fried.


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