FTX spent $15 million on flights and plane upgrades with a charter airline, a court filing said.
Bankman-Fried made 21 trips to or from Washington, DC, on a Learjet 60, a person with direct knowledge told Insider.
FTX also chartered smaller Cessnas, which two people said transported Amazon parcels.
Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX frequently chartered private jets from a Bahamian company called Trans Island Airways (TIA), three people familiar with the matter told Insider.
That included several trips to Washington, DC, according to one of the people who has direct knowledge of the matter.
Two of the people told Insider that TIA operated the private planes that transported FTX's Amazon packages from Florida to the Bahamas, because Amazon didn't deliver to the Caribbean nation.
Bankman-Fried's association with TIA was first publicly detailed in a legal motion filed last Thursday. The motion said a "handshake deal" between Bankman-Fried and the firm's CEO saw FTX loan it $28.4 million to buy two private jets — a Bombardier Global 5000 and Embraer ERJ-135BJ Legacy 600.
The motion, which arose from a months-long dispute with the FTX Debtors over who owns the aircraft, also says FTX spent more than $15 million with the aviation company on flight services.
Beginning in October 2021, TIA provided "private charter and cargo flights, customized plane upgrades and other services" to FTX executives, employees, and their associates, the filing said.
Bankman-Fried's flights included 36 journeys on a Learjet 60, the person with direct knowledge of the matter told Insider. They added that each trip cost between $20,000 and $30,000, which means the Learjet flights alone could cost more than $1 million.
Some 21 of those trips were to or from Washington, DC, the person said. The trips to DC are especially notable because FTX executives' political donations form a key part of the evidence against Bankman-Fried, whose trial is due to start next Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried orchestrated a scheme that involved funneling $100 million of FTX funds through executives to politicians. It was intended to "weed out anti-crypto" politicians and gain favorable influence among lawmakers, while avoiding criticism for appearing too partisan, prosecutors said in the most recent indictment.
Bankman-Fried is also known to have met with senior officials in the US financial system, and this week the New York Times reported that Bankman-Fried met with Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell in February 2022. The meeting took place inside the Federal Reserve's Martin building in D.C, his calendar shows.
Ryan Salame, the former CEO of FTX's Bahamian entity, has pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. He was released on $1 million bail.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to seven charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The FTX founder also traveled via Learjet to New York and Chicago, the person said. They added that Bankman and biographer Michael Lewis sometimes accompanied him. In a lawsuit filed against Bankman-Fried's parents earlier this month, FTX lawyers said Bankman "flew on privately-chartered jets."
Bankman and a representative for Lewis did not respond to requests for comment from Insider.
Online listings for TIA's Learjet 60s, registered as C6-ZIP and C6-ROV, show they can carry up to eight passengers, and have beige interiors with wooden details.
Bankman-Fried also chartered flights on TIA's smaller Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, two of the people told Insider. They said the Caravans were typically used for cargo flights, like transporting the crypto exchange's Amazon packages.
One of them, a former TIA pilot, said the FTX founder often flew to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in Florida.
"I flew all of them," he said. "I flew Sam, I flew Ryan, Sam's girlfriend, Sam's dad. I mean everyone from FTX."
The pilot added they would make up to four trips a day to Fort Lauderdale, transporting "goodies" like the Amazon packages.
Trans Island Airways and a representative for Bankman-Fried declined to comment.
Got a tip about FTX's use of private jets or other large expenses? Contact this reporter at email@example.com or on Twitter @PWSyme. You can also ask for his Signal or WhatsApp number.
Read the original article on Business Insider