FTX Executives Helped Run Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Empire
(Bloomberg) — Sam Bankman-Fried may be the face of FTX’s failure, but he’s not the only one who continues to maintain his vast empire.
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According to the bankruptcy filing, the more than 130 entities that make up the FTX Group range from a cryptocurrency exchange to a joint venture to a video game company. However, control over these businesses was limited to a few powerful people who led the company’s trading process and made key decisions about how FTX using his once huge cash source.
It’s not clear all of them will be of interest to prosecutors. The scam against Bankman-Fried primarily focused on transferring billions of dollars from FTX’s customer accounts to the affiliated hedge fund Alameda Research, which accumulated trading losses that led to the collapse of the exchange. As a result, any individual associated with Alameda is subject to surveillance. Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang have both pleaded guilty to fund-related fraud. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty, claiming he had no idea what was happening in Alameda.
Others are likely to seek their own partnership arrangements. Bloomberg reported that FTX’s former chief technical officer, Nishad Singh, met with prosecutors in early January. Former federal prosecutor Rebecca Mermelstein said the government often wants more collaborators to cover cover up the “warts” of the credibility of some witnesses, but they need to be limited in number.
She said: “Three people collaborating is quite a lot. “Someone who wants to cooperate here needs to ask themselves what they have that Ellison and Wang can’t give the government.”
Kevin O’Brien, a former federal prosecutor, said other executives, who may not be part of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, may still be struggling as legal proceedings proceed. against their former colleagues at FTX and Alameda.
“All of these people, any senior executives there, in both stores, you would expect an attorney to advise and get good advice,” he said.
Based on months of reporting and analysis of FTX’s bankruptcy filings, here are the group’s most influential figures alongside Bankman-Fried, Ellison, and Wang:
Singh, Bankman-Fried’s younger brother’s high school friend, is the technical director of FTX and one of his boss’s roommates in the Bahamas. According to bankruptcy court filings, he helped write code that allowed Alameda to secretly borrow unlimited amounts of basic money from the exchange’s customer accounts, and he himself borrowed millions of dollars from the fund. . Like Bankman-Fried, he’s also a major donor to the Democratic Party – Singh has given out more than $9.3 million to candidates and committees since 2020. Bankman-Fried’s was charged in indictment of violating campaign finance laws and using political donations to help launder the proceeds of fraud more broadly. Singh attended a so-called more professional session with prosecutors earlier this month in which he received limited immunity to tell prosecutors what he knows in hopes of commercializing him. amount of a plea agreement. Singh’s attorney declined to comment.
The former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, the main business arm of the Bahamas-based exchange, Salame is another major political donor, although he favors Republicans over Democrats . He was also a loan shark from Alameda, with bankruptcy filings showing he owed $55 million. The 2015 Amherst University graduate could have used some of that money to fund five restaurants he owns in Lenox, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires. He reported possible misuse of funds at the exchange a few days before FTX filed for bankruptcy in November, telling Bahamian regulators that client assets were being used to cover losses at Alameda. Salame’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Harrison abruptly stepped down as president of FTX’s US subsidiary in September, more than a year after he joined the board. He previously worked at Citadel Securities and quantitative trading firm Jane Street, where Bankman-Fried also worked. He was raising money for a crypto startup when FTX filed for bankruptcy, and Anthony Scaramucci announced on January 14 that he was investing in Harrison’s company. That same day, Harrison, who declined to comment for this story, unleashed a storm on Twitter in which he described his experience at FTX. He said he raised concerns about the group’s organizational structure, criticized Bankman-Fried as an “insecure, arrogant manager” and denied any reports of criminal activity. “It is clear from what has been made public that this plan is closely held by Sam and those close to him at FTX. com and Alameda, of which I am not a member, as are other executives at FTX US,” Harrison said in one of his tweets.
Trabucco, Ellison’s co-CEO at Alameda, abruptly resigned in August, announcing in a tweet that he had chosen to “prioritize other things” and would instead become an advisor to the company. Ellison previously said in an interview with Bloomberg that Trabucco’s role is more outward-oriented than hers, describing him as someone who handles the company’s Twitter presence. Trabucco has been posting on social media about his love of gambling and how his poker strategy has helped inform Alameda’s deals. Trabucco worked at the bond ETF desk of Susquehanna International Group before joining FTX.
Arora, a former product manager for FTX, has spearheaded efforts to attract more customers to the crypto exchange and broker deals with retail-focused startups like Dave Inc. Arora is also involved in transaction execution at the group, representing FTX Ventures in negotiations with major venture capital firms, according to people familiar with the matter. He helped put together a number of Bankman-Fried bailout deals over the summer, including the bad deal to back BlockFi Inc. with a $400 million revolving credit facility with the goal of FTX being able to buy back a crypto lender — BlockFi soon filed for bankruptcy after FTX did. Prior to joining FTX, Arora spent 5 years at Meta Platforms Inc., where he worked on Facebook’s failed Libra stablecoin project. He also worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Arora did not respond to a request for comment.
Wu, a former partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, was recruited to lead the newly launched FTX Ventures in January 2022. Under her leadership, the fund supported around 50 startups before closing. door, according to data from research firm PitchBook. According to the SEC complaint, two $100 million investments were made by FTX Ventures with customer funds illegally transferred to Alameda. In interviews with Bloomberg in August, both Wu and Ellison said Alameda had moved its venture operations to FTX Ventures, illustrating the close relationship between the two companies. Wu declined to comment.
As one of Bankman-Fried’s top subordinates, Wang served as chief executive officer of FTX until November and was also co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets. She manages global user development, partnerships and public relations, and also represents the company publicly when appearing at conferences. The Singaporean formerly worked at crypto exchange Huobi Global as a business development manager. Wang is also a risk and control analyst at Credit Suisse Group Inc. Wang did not respond to a request for comment.
Claire Watanabe, a senior executive in FTX’s business development team, is also Singh’s longtime girlfriend. She is also said to be a driving force in trying to land a $100 million sponsorship deal with Taylor Swift. Watanabe could not be reached for comment.
–With support from Jennah Haque.
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