NEW YORK (AP) – FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried faced new fraud charges on Thursday, as prosecutors accused him of cheating thousands of investors out of billions of dollars while casting himself as a trustworthy “saviour of the cryptocurrency industry” – an image boosted by celebrity-studded Super Bowl advertising and big donations to political figures.
New charges, including securities fraud and conspiracy fraud counts, were unveiled with the unsealing of the refreshed indictment in Manhattan federal court.
In a statement, United States (US) Attorney Damian Williams hinted, as he has several times previously, that prosecutors were not finished building their case.
“We are hard at work and will remain so until justice is done,” he said.
A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried’s attorneys declined comment.
The new charges raised the prison sentence Bankman-Fried could face if convicted from 115 years to 155 years, authorities said.
It also boosted the number of counts in the indictment to 12, as prosecutors more thoroughly and eloquently told their story of what happened to FTX, Bankman-Fried’s global cryptocurrency exchange, and its affiliated cryptocurrency trading hedge fund, Alameda Research.
The description cast FTX customers, investors, financial institutions, lenders and the Federal Election Commission as victims of fraudulent schemes Bankman-Fried allegedly carried out from 2019 until last November.
Prosecutors said Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits to support the operations and investments of FTX and Alameda and to fund speculative venture investments, make charitable donations and spend tens of millions of dollars on illegal campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to buy influence over cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.
They said Bankman-Fried cast himself as a “figurehead of a trustworthy and law-abiding segment of the cryptocurrency industry” that sought to protect investors and clients.