Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
SBF’s Chinese bribe scandal worsens
According to October 11 testimony from Caroline Ellison, co-founder of FTX-linked hedge fund Alameda Research, her colleague — disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried — allegedly paid $150 million in bribes to Chinese government officials in 2021, higher than the $40 million disclosed initially.
Ellison said during the FTX trial that two years prior, $1 billion worth of Alameda Research’s digital assets on crypto exchanges OKX and Huobi were frozen by Chinese law enforcement as part of a money-laundering investigation. Senior FTX executives, such as chief operations officer Constance Wang and Alameda trader David Wa, were also involved in the incident. The individuals first tried to contact a Chinese lawyer to unfreeze the funds, which didn’t work.
The disgraced FTX founder will be on trial throughout October. (Wikipedia)
Then, FTX and Alameda staff allegedly created accounts on OKX and Huobi using the identification of a Thai prostitute to negotiate the return of funds. When that didn’t work out, Ellison accused Bankman-Fried of paying a $150 million bribe to unfreeze the accounts. The bribe was recorded as “the thing” in future Alameda balance sheets. According to Ellison’s testimony, the funds were immediately unfrozen following the bribe.
Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York reminded the jurors that Bankman-Fried’s alleged bribery of Chinese officials is not within the scope of the ongoing FTX trial. Instead, a second trial relating to SBF’s bribery charges has been scheduled for March 11, 2024. The FTX trial will remain ongoing for the month of October.
Binance clarifies account freeze
Yi He, a co-founder of Binance, clarified on the Chinese social media app WeChat earlier this week that only accounts of users suspected of violating…