DOJ Drops Campaign Finance Charge Against Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) informed a federal judge late Wednesday it did “not intend to proceed” with a campaign finance charge against disgraced FTX founder and Democrat super donor Sam Bankman-Fried.

Consultation with the Bahamas on the campaign finance charges in Bankman-Fried’s original extradition document last year were behind the decision as part of an effort to adhere to the legal obligations therein, Forbes reports.

The campaign finance violation charge was among eight counts present in the DOJ’s original indictment—which also includes wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering—in December.

The Associated Press

Samuel Bankman-Fried departs Manhattan federal court in New York, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In the filing addressed to New York federal judge Lewis Kaplan, the Bahamas did not include the eighth charge from the original indictment, a campaign finance violation, in its extradition treaty.

“The Government has been informed that The Bahamas notified the United States earlier today that The Bahamas did not intend to extradite the defendant on the campaign contributions count,” the DOJ letter said. “Accordingly, in keeping with its treaty obligations to The Bahamas, the Government does not intend to proceed to trial on the campaign contributions count.”

The notice came hours after a hearing over Bankman-Fried’s alleged attempt to discredit former Alameda Research executive Caroline Ellison by sharing private documents with the New York Times.

The FTX founder has been accused of taking more than $2 billion in “loans and payments” from the firm during his time as CEO, as Breitbart News reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon opened the hearing by announcing the DOJ wanted to remand the cryptocurrency entrepreneur into custody, AP reports.

Judge Kaplan declined to rule on that motion during Wednesday’s hearing, instead setting up a schedule for both the prosecution and the defense to file written submissions on that matter. In the meantime, he imposed an interim gag order preventing Bankman-Fried from communicating publicly.

“I am certainly very mindful of his First Amendment rights, and I am very mindful of the government’s interest here, which I take very seriously,” Kaplan said. “And I say to the defendant, Mr. Bankman-Fried: You better take it seriously, too.”

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to charges that he cheated investors and looted FTX customer deposits.

The 31-year-old, who was seen as a crypto whiz before the exchange collapsed last year, has been free on $250 million bond since his December extradition from the Bahamas. He is required to remain at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, and his electronic communications have been severely limited.

Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 2. The DOJ’s letter did not say if prosecutors intend to fold the campaign finance charge into the second trial in March.

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