Sam Bankman-Fried says he ‘didn’t ever try to commit fraud’

NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of now-bankrupt crypto trade FTX, tried to distance himself from options of fraud in his first public look since his firm’s collapse shocked traders and left collectors going through losses totaling billions of {dollars}.

Talking by way of video hyperlink on the New York Instances’ Dealbook Summit with Andrew Ross Sorkin on Wednesday, Bankman-Fried stated he didn’t knowingly commingle buyer funds on FTX with funds at his proprietary buying and selling agency, Alameda Analysis.

“I did not ever attempt to commit fraud,” Bankman-Fried stated within the hour-long interview, including that he does not personally assume he has any felony legal responsibility.

He additionally denied understanding the complete scale of Alameda’s place on FTX, claiming that it caught him abruptly.

The liquidity crunch at FTX got here after Bankman-Fried secretly moved $10 billion of FTX buyer funds to Alameda Analysis, Reuters reported, citing two folks aware of the matter. A minimum of $1 billion in buyer funds had vanished, the folks stated.

Bankman-Fried advised Reuters in November the corporate didn’t “secretly switch” however reasonably misinterpret its “complicated inside labeling.”

FTX filed for chapter and Bankman-Fried stepped down as chief government on Nov. 11, after merchants pulled $6 billion from the platform in three days and rival trade Binance deserted a rescue deal.

“That week, a lot occurred,” he stated.

Bankman-Fried stated he was talking from the Bahamas and that the interview was in opposition to the recommendation of his legal professionals. He was seen within the video hyperlink speaking from a room, wearing a black T-shirt and sometimes ingesting from a mug.

FTX faces a flurry of investigations. The U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace in Manhattan in mid-November started investigating how FTX dealt with buyer funds, a supply with information of the probe advised Reuters. The Securities and Alternate Fee and Commodity Futures Buying and selling Fee have additionally opened probes.

When requested if he might come to america, Bankman-Fried replied that to his information he might, and that he wouldn’t be shocked if he traveled to Washington for upcoming congressional hearings on the corporate’s collapse.

The implosion of FTX marked a shocking fall from grace for the 30-year-old entrepreneur who rode a cryptocurrency growth to a web value that Forbes pegged a yr in the past at $26.5 billion. After launching FTX in 2019, he turned an influential political donor and pledged to donate most of his earnings to charities.

He stated Wednesday that he now has “near nothing” left and is down to at least one working bank card with “perhaps $100,000 in that checking account.”

Since FTX filed for chapter, Bankman-Fried has distanced himself from the picture he projected in media interviews and on Capitol Hill, telling a Vox reporter his advocacy for a crypto regulatory framework was “simply PR” and his discussions on ethics throughout the business have been at the least partly a entrance.

Bankman-Fried stated he was “confused” as to why FTX’s U.S. entity, which was included within the chapter submitting, is just not processing buyer withdrawals. Redemptions are presently paused for each U.S. and worldwide prospects.

“To my information all American prospects and all American regulated companies listed below are, I believe at the least when it comes to consumer belongings, are okay,” he stated, including that derivatives contracts at considered one of its U.S. subsidiaries have been “absolutely collateralized.”


Bankman-Fried stated that Alameda had constructed up a considerable place on FTX and that as digital asset costs plummeted this yr, Alameda turned more and more extra levered to the purpose of no return earlier this month.

“Realistically talking, (there was) no means for FTX to have the ability to liquidate that place and generate all the things that was owed,” he stated.

He added that he “wasn’t attempting to commingle funds,” however stated that when FTX did not have a checking account, some prospects wired cash to Alameda and have been credited on FTX, which probably led to discrepancies.

Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO of Alameda in October 2021, 4 years after founding the corporate, and ceded the function to Caroline Ellison and Sam Trabucco, who acted as co-CEOs till Trabucco departed the agency in August.

For his half, Bankman-Fried stated he regretted specializing in the larger image at FTX on the expense of threat administration, which he stated he paid much less consideration to over “the final yr or two.”

His corporations “utterly failed” on threat administration, he stated.

“There was no one who was mainly accountable for positional threat of shoppers on FTX, and that feels fairly embarrassing looking back.”

Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Lananh Nguyen in New York and Manya Saini in Bengaluru; writing by Hannah Lang in Washington; enhancing by Megan Davies, Deepa Babington and Sam Holmes

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.


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