Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was prior to the company’s collapse and his arrest on fraud charges also an aspiring political influencer. Bankman-Fried lavishly donated to candidates of both parties between 2020 and 2023 and promoted a pet political movement called “Effective Altruism.”
According to a new book, Bankman-Fried even considered bribing Donald Trump to the tune of $5 billion dollars not to run for president again.
The weird anecdote comes from “Going Infinite,” a new book about Bankman-Fried by author Michael Lewis. In an interview Sunday with “60 Minutes,” Lewis described the incident like this:
“Sam’s thinking, ‘We could pay Donald Trump not to run for president. Like, how much would it take?’ He did get an answer. He was floated — there was a number that was kicking around. And the number that was kicking around when I was talking to Sam about this was $5 billion. Sam was not sure that number came directly from Trump.”
To be clear, the book provides no evidence of involvement by Trump or that anyone associated with Bankman-Fried actually spoke to the disgraced former president. It’s just something Bankman-Fried told Lewis.
Bankman-Fried is currently in jail awaiting trial on federal fraud charges, having been sent there after federal prosecutors discovered evidence he had attempted to tamper with witnesses multiple times.
He has been charged with several fraud-related crimes, including two counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, stemming from the collapse of FTX, which has since been revealed to be, as one observer put it, “the largest ponzi scheme in history.” He has also been charged with bribing Chinese officials.
Prior to being sent to jail, 31-year-old Bankman-Fried was on house arrest at his parents after posting $250 million bond. He pleaded not guilty to the first 12 charges and faces 115 years in prison for the earlier charges.