FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the US Federal Court in New York on March 30, 2023
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the US Federal Court in New York on March 30, 2023 AFP

Former FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty Thursday to five criminal charges recently added by US prosecutors in the government's sprawling case against the former cryptocurrency wunderkind.

Bankman-Fried, known as "SBF," had in January entered a "not guilty" plea to eight other criminal charges from his original indictment, including fraud.

Among the newest charges -- included in a superseding indictment filed Tuesday by US Attorney Damian Williams -- were allegations that Bankman-Fried authorized bribes of at least $40 million to Chinese officials.

FTX and its sister trading house Alameda Research went bankrupt in November, dissolving a virtual trading business that at one point had been valued by the market at $32 billion.

The China case stemmed from a move by Chinese authorities to freeze Alameda accounts as part of what Bankman-Fried understood as a probe of an Alameda trading counterparty.

Bankman-Fried ultimately directed multi-billion dollar bribes to unfreeze the assets, according to the indictment, adding that the accounts were unfrozen.

Extradited to the United States in December from the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried faces potentially dozens of years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin in October in New York.

Besides bribery and fraud, the United States has charged Bankman-Fried with conspiracy, money laundering and election finance violations.

Prosecutors allege he cheated investors and misused funds that belonged to FTX and Alameda Research customers.

Bankman-Fried had once appeared on the covers of magazines, drew in huge investments from prominent fund managers and venture capitalists, and was touted as a future Warren Buffett.

But his world imploded sensationally in November when a media report said Alameda's balance sheet was heavily built on a token created by FTX with no independent value.