Federal Prosecutors Probe Democrats Over Donations From Sam Bankman-Fried
Several members of the U.S. Democratic Party and campaign committees are reportedly being probed by federal prosecutors over donations from former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and another executive of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange. “To any person, entity, or political campaign that has received stolen customer money, we ask that you work with us to return that money to the innocent victims,” said a U.S. district attorney following the arrest of Bankman-Fried.
Federal Prosecutors Investigate Sam Bankman-Fried’s Political Donations
The United States District Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has reportedly begun an investigation into illegal campaign contributions from Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and two other former FTX executives.
Following Bankman-Fried’s arrest in the Bahamas last week, the District Attorney’s Office sent an email to a few Democratic political organizations, including the party’s official campaign offices, a few of its major PACs, and the individual campaigns of some politicians, including Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
The email asks for any information about donations from SBF, his colleagues, and companies, the New York Times reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the request. Referring to the FTX case as “the biggest campaign finance scandals in years,” the publication noted that the Justice Department’s inquiries “appear to be an effort to gather evidence against Mr. Bankman-Fried and other former FTX executives, rather than against their political beneficiaries.”
In a press conference announcing the indictment of Bankman-Fried Tuesday, U.S. District Attorney Damian Williams requested:
To any person, entity or political campaign that has received stolen customer money, we ask that you work with us to return that money to the innocent victims.
One of the official charges federal prosecutors unveiled last week after SBF’s arrest was conspiring to violate campaign finance laws. The former FTX CEO was 2020’s second-largest campaign donor, contributing nearly $45 million, mostly to Democratic campaigns and committees, the publication conveyed. In an interview before his arrest, Bankman-Fried claimed that he made dark donations of a similar amount to the Republicans. Tesla CEO and Twitter boss Elon Musk believes that the former FTX boss donated over $1 billion to Democrats.
Federal Election Commission regulations require donations to be returned if they are later determined to be illegal, even if the funds have already been spent and new money needs to be raised.
Nishad Singh, another former FTX executive, also donated nearly $9.7 million, mostly to Democratic candidates and groups, the news outlet noted. Prosecutors are also reportedly investigating donations to Republican campaigns and committees by Ryan Salame, another former FTX executive, who gave $24 million, primarily to Republican candidates and committees.
Karl J. Sandstrom, a former Federal Election Committee member and current Democrat campaign advisor, told the publication that the FTX case has the potential to be:
The largest corporate conduit case we have had.
FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11 and an estimated one million customers and investors have lost billions of dollars in the collapse. The U.S. government and regulators have brought several fraud charges against the crypto firm and Bankman-Fried. The former FTX chief has been arrested and is now in prison in the Bahamas; he is expected to agree to extradition to the U.S. this week.