Caroline Ellison, close confidant of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, says that the exchange’s trading arm Alameda Research paid a bribe to the Chinese government to unfreeze a billion dollars.
In court transcripts reported by The Inner City Press, Ellison, also the former CEO of Alameda, was probed by United States Attorneys (AUSA) regarding her chats with Bankman-Fried on messaging app Signal.
Ellison reveals that Bankman-Fried insisted that all Signal chats were set to automatically delete after a certain amount of time, before admitting that Alameda paid Chinese entities to unfreeze $1 billion after being hit with a money laundering investigation.
Says the transcripts, according to Inner City Press,
“AUSA: Did you speak in coded terms?
Ellison: Yes. When we gave a large bribe to China – our accounts were frozen in a money laundering investigation.
AUSA: How much was frozen in China?
Ellison: $1 billion. Sam wanted to find ways to address it.
AUSA: How were they unfrozen?
Ellison: Alameda paid a bribe to Chinese government officials
[Lawyers for] SBF: Objection, move to strike.
Judge Kaplan: I will strike that.”
Ellison goes on to say that after exploring other avenues to try to unfreeze the funds, FTX executives David Ma and Constance Wang, both Chinese, were able to communicate with the officials.
According to Ellison, while Wang disagreed with the idea, Ma relayed information to FTX that the money could be unfrozen if $100 million was sent to certain crypto addresses.
“Ellison: Sam said Ma had found a way to get our accounts unfrozen, if we just sent to these crypto addresses, $100 million. It was November of 2021.
AUSA: Did you know who the recipient was?
AUSA: Did you have a belief?
SBF’s lawyer: Objection!”
In March, Bankman-Fried was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly bribing Chinese officials with $40 million, significantly less than the $100 million that Ellison described in her testimony.
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