Government exhibit in the case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
As Sam Bankman-Fried prepares to face sentencing next month for his criminal fraud conviction tied to the epic collapse of FTX in 2022, former customers of the crypto exchange have reasons to believe they could actually recoup their money.
Bankman-Fried, who could spend the rest of his life behind bars, was found guilty in November on seven criminal counts after roughly $10 billion in customer funds from his company went missing. Some of that money went to pay for Bankman-Fried’s lavish lifestyle, but much of it went towards other investments that have, of late, appreciated dramatically in value.
Lawyers representing the bankruptcy estate of FTX told a judge in Delaware last week that they expect to fully repay customers and creditors with legitimate claims. Bankruptcy attorney Andrew Dietderich, who works with FTX’s new leadership team, said “there is still a great amount of work and risk” ahead in getting all the money back to clients, but that the team has a “strategy to achieve it.”
It’s a welcome development for the many thousands of customers (reportedly up to a million) who collectively lost billions of dollars in FTX’s collapse 15 months ago, when the crypto exchange spiraled into bankruptcy in a matter of days. Given the lightly regulated and unsecured nature of FTX — and the crypto industry at large — those clients faced the real possibility that the vast majority of their money had evaporated. Plenty of failed hedge funds and lenders lost virtually everything during the 2022 crypto winter.
Bankman-Fried never believed his company’s situation was that dire.
Even as regulators and federal prosecutors unearthed evidence showing that the 31-year-old entrepreneur and his top lieutenants had been pilfering billions of dollars from customer wallets for years, Bankman-Fried insisted that all the money was still somehow accessible.
“FTX US remains fully solvent,” Bankman-Fried wrote in a Substack post on Jan. 12, 2023, while he was under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California. He said the exchange “should be able to return all customers’ funds.”
In some ways, his narrative appears to be proving true.
Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried arrive for the trial of their son, former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who is facing fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, at Federal Court in New York City, U.S., October 26,…