JAILED former billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried considered paying former US President Donald Trump to not run for re-election in 2020, according to an excerpt of a forthcoming book published on Sunday.

In the excerpt published in the Washington Post, Michael Lewis, the author of Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon, said Mr. Bankman-Fried at the time was planning to give $15 million to $30 million to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell to defeat the “Trumpier” candidates in the Senate races.

“On a separate front, he explained to me, as the plane descended into Washington, he was exploring the legality of paying Donald Trump himself not to run for president,” Mr. Lewis wrote.

“His team had somehow created a back channel into the Trump operation and returned with the not terribly Earth-shattering news that Donald Trump might indeed have his price: $5 billion. Or so Sam was told by his team.”

The excerpt did not discuss why Bankman-Fried, the founder of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, did not press ahead with the plans.

Mark Botnick, a spokesperson for Mr. Bankman-Fried, declined to comment on the excerpt, while representatives for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Mr. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fraud and conspiracy stemming from the cryptocurrency exchange’s collapse in November 2022.

He faces a statutory maximum of 110 years in prison, though any sentence would be determined by the judge overseeing the case based on a range of factors, and he would likely get far less.

Mr. Lewis’ book release coincides with the start of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial this week. — Reuters