Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX’s sister trading firm Alameda Research, has testified against Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), her ex-boyfriend and the former CEO of FTX, revealing that he tried to use other accounts to unlock some funds frozen by authorities in 2021.
According to a tweet by Laura Shin, crypto journalist and host of the Unchained Podcast, SBF tried using accounts belonging to Thai prostitutes to unlock the frozen funds before resorting to bribing Chinese officials with $100 million.
SBF Tried to Use Thai Prostitute Accounts
In 2021, Chinese authorities froze $1 billion in cryptocurrencies on the Asian arms of crypto exchanges Huobi (now HTX) and OKX. The trading accounts were locked as part of a money laundering investigation into an Alameda counterparty.
In an attempt to unfreeze the assets, SBF and the Alameda management team first tried to hire a lawyer in China to work things out with the government. When the tactic turned fruitless, SBF tried using accounts belonging to Thai prostitutes to retrieve the funds through several trading strategies.
“Per Ellison, FTX and Alameda discussed ways to try and unlock the money in the accounts, including using wallets of “Thai prostitutes” on the exchange to move money and bribing Chinese officials to the tune of about $100 million. Alameda co-CEO Sam Trabucco knew about the bribe because he was in the Signal chat where it was discussed, she said,” Shin tweeted.
Ellison explained in court that Alameda created several accounts with Thai prostitute identities on OKX and tried to make the frozen trading accounts lose money while the newly created ones made money. This was made possible by executing imbalanced trades between the two accounts and the prostitute accounts and making the latter withdraw the amount earned.
SBF Resorts to $100M Bribe
When the Thai prostitute accounts trading strategy failed to work as planned, David Ma, an Alameda employee, suggested that SBF bribe some Chinese officials to unlock the funds. Although SBF was initially against the idea, he later gave in and sent $100 million to designated accounts, leading to the unfreezing of the funds.
As SBF’s trial proceeds, more revelations of his misconduct at the FTX empire will continue to come to light. He currently faces seven fraud charges and is scheduled to face another five in March 2024.