The White House on Tuesday shrugged off questions about meetings between top administration officials and alleged crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried, saying the sessions focused on “general information” about the crypto industry.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the meetings focused on COVID-19 prevention related to Mr. Bankman-Fried’s foundation and generally discussed cryptocurrency exchanges.
“The White House regularly engages with officials from a range of industries and sectors, including leaders in business and labor and nonprofits,” she told reporters. “This meeting with Sam Bankman-Fried was focused on pandemic prevention and related matters including, cryptocurrency and crypto exchanges — general information.”
White House visitor logs released last week revealed that Mr. Bankman-Fried met with White House advisor Steve Ricchetti on at least three occasions in 2022 and President Biden’s deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed once last year.
The disgraced founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX met with Mr. Ricchetti as recently as Sept. 8, according to the visitor logs. Mr. Bankman-Fried’s younger brother Gabriel also participated in a May 13 meeting.
Mr. Bankman-Fried is accused of defrauding investors out of at least $1.8 billion. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last month charged him with eight criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit campaign finance violations.
He was a major Democratic donor before FTX collapsed, giving $50,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in October 2020 and another $2,800 directly to the Biden campaign that same month, according to Federal Election Commission records. He also spent another $10 million to support Mr. Biden’s election through indirect donations.
Ms. Jean-Pierre said the president has “no view” on whether politicians who accepted funds from Mr. Bankman-Fried should return the money.