Ex-FTX boss Bankman-Fried: ‘I didn’t try to commit fraud’

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Sam Bankman-Fried speaks to The New York Times

Sam Bankman-Fried, the former chief executive officer of crypto exchange FTX, has denied committing fraud.

The man once hailed as a legendary figure in the crypto industry told The New York Times he had had a “bad month” and had almost no money left.

The global crypto exchange, that was at one point valued at $32bn (£26.5bn), collapsed earlier this month.

Many investors have not been able to withdraw their funds from the now bankrupt platform.

Mr Bankman-Fried also said his lawyers had advised him not to speak publicly but he had ignored their advice.

He denied having moved any personal money out of FTX himself – saying he now has “close to nothing.”

Speaking from The Bahamas, he said he had one credit card left which had around $100,000 on it.

In the interview he said he had not deliberately misled investors.

“I didn’t ever try to commit fraud,” he said.

However, asked several times about details of money movements between FTX and other entities, including the trading firm he owned, Alameda Research, he at times seemed sketchy in detail.

He also said the company had indulged in “greenwashing” where firms engage in environmental projects for publicity.

Mr Bankman-Fried was once viewed him as a young Warren Buffet.

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However, he says, he underestimated the amount of cash needed to cover FTX customers withdrawals – leading to a run on the exchange.

Many crypto entities have struggled amidst a downturn in the broader economy, and concerns about the viability of crypto currencies more generally.

FTX declared bankruptcy soon after. Mr Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO on 11 November.

According to a court filing earlier this month, FTX currently owes its 50 largest creditors almost $3.1bn.

As recently as late October, Mr Bankman-Fried had a net worth estimated at more than $15bn.

The crypto star had become well known in Washington DC as a political donor supposedly supporting pandemic prevention and improved crypto regulation.

But in his talk with The New York Times’ reporter, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Mr Bankman-Fried confessed much of his Washington DC work had been PR “masquerading as do-gooderism.”

Sam Bankman-Fried speaks to The New York Times

Getty Images

Mr Bankman-Fried said for now he was not concerned about potential criminal or civil liability.

“There’s a time and a place for me to think about myself and my own future,” he said after starting and stopping several times. “I don’t think this is it.”

When asked if he had been truthful in his responses, Mr Bankman-Fried said he was as truthful as he knowledgeably could be. “I don’t know of times when I lied,” he said.

Though he did not provide evidence to support it, SBF said he believed FTX US was solvent and could in fact pay back American investors.

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