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FTX founder pleads not guilty to bribe and other new charges

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty Thursday to new federal charges alleging that he bribed a Chinese government official and violated campaign finance laws.

Federal prosecutors last week charged Bankman-Fried with directing $40 million in bribes to one or more Chinese officials in hopes of unfreezing assets relating to his cryptocurrency business. The charge of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act means Bankman-Fried now faces a total of 13 charges after being arrested in the Bahamas last December and later extradited to the U.S. for trial.

Bankman-Fried, 31, entered the plea to the latest allegations through his lawyer, Mark Cohen, in a Manhattan court. Cohen told Judge Lewis Kaplan that although his client is pleading not guilty to the new charges, Bankman-Fried is not acknowledging that he can be tried on them. Cohen didn't elaborate and left the courthouse quickly just before Bankman-Fried was ushered to a waiting vehicle.

Prosecutors have also accused Bankman-Fried of illegally donating money to political candidates and committees in New York under another person's name. Bankman-Fried made "tens of millions of dollars" in contributions to both Democrats and Republicans in order to sway public policy, prosecutors said in December.  

Bankman-Fried previously pleaded not guilty to charges alleging that he cheated investors out of billions of dollars before his cryptocurrency exchange collapsed. Carolyn Ellison, who led FTX's hedge fund Alameda Research; and Gary Wang, who co-founded FTX, have already pleaded guilty to charges including wire, securities and commodities fraud.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to criminal charges 06:05

In late February, a rewritten indictment brought new fraud charges against Bankman-Fried and raised the maximum prison time he could face if convicted from 115 years to 155 years.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on November 11, when it ran out of money after experiencing the cryptocurrency equivalent of a bank run. Bankman-Fried has remained free on a $250 million personal recognizance bond that lets him stay with his parents in California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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