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DOJ withdraws FCPA count against Sam Bankman-Fried, cites extradition constraints

The DOJ voluntarily withdrew an FCPA count and four other charges yesterday that it added to its original indictment of Sam Bankman-Fried after his extradition from the Bahamas.

In addition to the FCPA charge, the new charges (now dropped) included bank fraud and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

On Wednesday, the DOJ informed Judge Lewis Kaplan that under the extradition between the United States and the Bahamas, consent from the Bahamian government is required for the DOJ to bring the newly added charges.

Because waiting for the Bahamian government to decide whether to give consent to the new charges would delay the planned October start of Bankman-Fried’s trial on the original charges, the DOJ instead voluntarily withdrew the newer charges.

The FCPA count alleged that Bankman-Fried authorized and directed a bribe of around $40 million in cryptocurrency to Chinese government officials in November 2021.

The payment was intended to influence the officials to unfreeze accounts worth over $1 billion in cryptocurrency belonging to Bankman-Fried, Alameda Research (FTX’s hedge fund), and others, according to the indictment.

Bankman-Fried founded cryptocurrency exchange FTX and served as CEO until its bankruptcy on November 11, 2022. He was arrested in the Bahamas a month later and extradited to the United States on December 22.

In February, the court released Bankman-Fried before trial on a $250 million recognizance bond.

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