As much as $50 billion missing… Amphetamine fueled sex in the Bahamas… $200 million funneled towards politicians… Crypto market loses trillions… Tom Brady! What the HELL is going on with FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried? This is a story for the ages. One that deserves a Neflix documentary series. But let’s do our best to break it all down quickly.
It started when Bankman-Fried was criticized by many in the crypto industry, including popular Youtube BitBoy Crypto, for attempting to bring regulation to crypto that was meant to end decentralization. Because of this (and other factors) the founder of Binance tweeted that they were dumping their FTX token (a half a billion dollars worth of it), which it was alleged was made up as much of $6 Billion of FTX’s reported holdings. This caused the FTX coin to plummet in value. And everyone began withdrawing their money from FTX.
Sam Bankman-Fried, born in 1992, was a financial superstar, having founded the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. His net worth peaked at over $26 billion. All of this money he somehow made in just a couple of years. He is said to have a $200 million compound in the Bahamas where the company is run.
He gave millions to universities, and over $40 million to Democrat Party candidates and PACs just in this last election cycle. He was the second top Biden Donor. He projected a neo-hippie image, claiming to be a vegan, and pledging to give away his entire fortune a la the “Effective Altruism” movement.
The “Effective Altruism” movement is popular with Silicon Valley tech types, though critics say it is “cult-like” and that the “donations” are really political manipulation. There are rumors of amphetamine-fueled sex parties in the Bahamas.
Island penthouses staffed by young people in various romantic couplings. Not shocking when you think about the history of young men who become extremely wealthy in a short amount of time. But regardless of what you think of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s goals, he was on top of the world.
He had tens of billions of dollars at his disposal to achieve his goals. That was all true as little as a week ago. As of today, his company FTX is bankrupt and he is personally bankrupt.
Major VC and hedge funds like Sequoia, Tiger Global and Softbank have written down their hundreds of millions invested in FTX and its related companies to zero. Why did his company collapse?
Well he owned three major entities. FTX, FTX US, and Alameda. FTX and FTX US were financial exchanges where investors could deposit money and make trades, mainly with crypto. Alameda was basically a hedge fund, that made aggressive trades in the highly volatile crypto market.
The FTX US exchange had to be kept separate from the FTX exchange due to stricter US laws about financial firms. In fact, before this catastrophic collapse, Bankman-Fried had a reputation of cozying up to US regulators, meeting with major politicians and federal regulators.
Surely, his massive donations to the Democrat Party didn’t hurt this access. But an investigation by the website Coindesk showed that these three entities were not as separate as people assumed.
And it looks like the Alameda arm made its risky trades and bets with customer money that was deposited on the platform. Cryptocurrency offers gray area, but in mainstream finance this is illegal. Maybe it would have worked out if Alameda had won these trades?
But they didn’t. they gambled tens of billions, and it looks like they lost BIG. So now when customers go to withdraw their funds from the FTX exchanges… there’s a giant gaping hole, pegged at anywhere between $10 and $50 billion.
Rumors are that important and famous people like the president of El Salvador and football star Tom Brady may have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps billions. Not to mention all the regular people who deposited with this supposedly “safe” platform run by someone frequently photographed with important US politicians. Now it comes out that the SEC has allegedly been investigating FTX for months. If there were allegations of wrongdoing – why wait months to warn people? Regular people are seeing wealth DESTROYED
And did that have anything to do with Bankman-Fried being a huge donor in this hotly-contested election cycle? Bankman-Fried’s mother is a longtime lawyer & activist for the Democratic Party. In total it’s said that Bankman-Fried gave over $200 million to US political causes.
It will take a while for the dust to settle. Bankman-Fried has filed for bankruptcy, and we’re looking at years of lawsuits and fights by investors trying to claw back what little money is left.