During the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of crypto exchange FTX, shocking revelations emerged from the testimony of former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison.
According to a TechCrunch report, Ellison testified that the crypto trading firm paid Chinese officials to unlock their Alameda trading accounts on OKX and Huobi in China.
Judge Lewis Kaplan clarified that Bankman-Fried was not charged with bribery in this case. Still, the evidence was presented to demonstrate trust, confidence, and motive between Bankman-Fried and Ellison.
According to Ellison’s testimony, while Bankman-Fried was CEO in 2020, the accounts valued at approximately $1 billion were frozen.
In November 2021, Bankman-Fried claimed that a colleague, David Ma, who had connections in China, found a way to unfreeze the accounts.
Ellison, who had become co-CEO of Alameda by then, made crypto transfers totaling around $100 million to $150 million to reopen the accounts, unaware that the payments were made to Chinese officials.
Ellison stated that Bankman-Fried and Sam Trabucco instructed her through a Signal chat to make the payments.
Before the accounts were reopened, Ellison revealed that Alameda employees explored various strategies to unlock the accounts, including involving lawyers and government officials.
Ellison testified that they even considered using Thai prostitutes to open accounts on the exchanges to facilitate fund transfers, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
One Alameda trader, “Handi,” resigned in early January 2022 due to her objection to paying bribes to Chinese officials, as her father held a government position.
Ellison testified that Handi had a heated argument with Bankman-Fried about the matter, during which he allegedly told her to “shut the fuck up.” A month after Handi’s resignation, Trabucco asked in a Signal chat if Handi’s father had immediately reported them, to which Bankman-Fried responded with “lol.”
Ellison shared a list with prosecutors containing notes, one of which referred to a payment of “150m from the thing?” about the money transferred to regain the accounts.
Per the report, Ellison explained that she did not want to explicitly state in writing that the payment was made to China to unlock the accounts, fearing that it could be leaked and used against Alameda Research in court.
Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyer, Mark Cohen, attempted to strike Ellison’s statement about avoiding written evidence of the payments, but Judge Kaplan overruled the request.
The trial continues to uncover new details and allegations, shedding light on the actions and motivations of the individuals involved, and the cryptocurrency community eagerly awaits further developments and the subsequent outcome of the trial.
Featured image from Shutterstock, chart from TradingView.com