Sam Bankman-Fried extracted at least $300 million from his failed cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, and questions are raging as to whether there’s still more alleged looting to be uncovered, and, if so, will any of it ever be paid back.
While Bankman-Fried, 30, has cultivated a scruffy, do-gooder image, bankruptcy documents show that FTX raised some $421 million from investors, only to have him siphon off $300 million — with some of the money used to fund the purchase of a $16.4 million vacation home for his parents in the Bahamas.
At the time, Bankman-Fried told investors the cash-out was a partial reimbursement of money he’d spent to buy out rival Binance’s stake in FTX a few months earlier, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, both Stanford University law professors, were listed as the owners of a $16.4 million beachfront vacation home in the Old Fort Bay section of the Bahamas, according to Reuters, which cited property records from the island nation.
Bankman-Fried’s parents were in the process of returning the home to FTX, according to a spokesperson.
“Since before the bankruptcy proceedings, Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried have been seeking to return the deed to the company and are awaiting further instructions,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
Last week, FTX’s new CEO John J. Ray said in a court filing that “only a fraction” of FTX’s digital assets have been located and secured. Ray also has accused Bankman-Fried of working with Bahamian regulators to “undermine” the US bankruptcy case and shift assets overseas.
In all, the company is said to owe more than $3 billion to investors and creditors, which could number more than 1 million across the companies various entities worldwide, according to a court filing. The question now is whether the customers and creditors can claw back some of their money from the company, which is said to have a cash balance of $1.24 billion.
“It will most likely take time, but eventually, many will recover their funds,” Derek Jacques, a bankruptcy attorney with the Mitten Law Firm near Detroit, told The Post. “This is assuming that no criminal penalties are doled out, which still appears to be a distinct possibility in this case.”
Blue-chip venture capital firms such as Temasek, Tiger Global were among those who extended funds to FTX in October of last year, when the company was valued at some $25 billion.
Those firms and others including Sequoia and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension plan plowed a total of $1.8 billion of capital into FTX. Paradigm, a crypto-focused investment firm, invested $215 million in FTX — the largest of any entity.
Max Galka, the founder and CEO of Elementus who has firsthand knowledge of crypto bankruptcy proceedings, said that the courts will have to determine the value of assets held by FTX.
“FTX still holds a large number of crypto assets which are visible on-chain,” Galka told The Post. “Additionally, they were involved in a very large number of business operations and had made many acquisitions of large crypto businesses across a variety of verticals.”
“Unlike some of the other crypto bankruptcies that have taken place this last year, FTX certainly has a large number of assets that will allow creditors to regroup some of their money,” he said.
One of those assets is LedgerX, an FTX subsidiary that sells crypt derivatives. Unlike its parent company, LedgerX is considered to be one that has “solvent balance sheets, responsible management, and valuable franchises,” according to its new CEO Ray, who took charge after the company was placed in Chapter 11.
Court documents unveiled during bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware as well as property records unearthed in the Bahamas indicate that Bankman-Fried apparently used the company as his own personal piggy bank.
The Old Fort Bay vacation home is part of an extensive real estate spending spree undertaken by FTX. Property records show that FTX spent some $121 million on at least 19 homes in the Bahamas over the past two years.
The company shelled out $72 million for condominium apartments at the exclusive Albany beachfront resort as well as $30 million for a penthouse apartment for Bankman-Fried.
Records also indicated that FTX bought three apartments in the Bahamas ranging between $950,000 and $2 million each.
FTX filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month after it was learned that it used customer funds to cover risky bets made by sister company Alameda Research, which was also founded by Bankman-Fried.