John Ray III, the lawyer who is overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings of defunct cryptocurrency platform FTX, said that executives at the company formerly led by disgraced billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried purchased real estate for themselves using corporate funds with little formal oversight.
According to a court filing submitted by the seasoned attorney, who previously represented plaintiffs after the collapse of fraudulent energy company Enron, leadership at the cryptocurrency venture lacked disbursement controls “appropriate for a business enterprise,” allowing executives to “purchase homes and other personal items for employees and advisors” in the Bahamas using corporate funds.
“I understand that there does not appear to be documentation for certain of these transactions as loans,” the lawyer wrote, “and that certain real estate was recorded in the personal name of these employees and advisors on the records of the Bahamas.”
Bankman-Fried, who was one of the Democrats’ largest donors in the recent midterm elections, reportedly listed his $40 million penthouse in Nassau on the same day that FTX declared bankruptcy, although Ray did not mention any specific properties in the court documents. The apartment included five bedrooms, a private elevator, a spa and pool, and a view of the Atlantic Ocean, according to a report from Semafor, which confirmed that the property belonged to the young entrepreneur and was also occupied by his senior coworkers.
Ray, who was appointed chief executive of FTX to manage the company’s restructuring, noted that employees had been submitting payment requests through an online chat platform “where a disparate group of supervisors approved disbursements by responding with personalized emojis.” A centralized disbursement approval process has been established under the attorney’s leadership.
FTX filed for bankruptcy last week after users discovered that firms controlled by Bankman-Fried and his associates were allegedly fraudulently intertwined, causing a liquidity crisis as users rushed to withdraw funds. The fallout has provoked calls for greater regulations on the cryptocurrency sector and will be the subject of a bipartisan hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee next month.
Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading firm led by Caroline Ellison, a former love interest of Bankman-Fried, allegedly funneled customer holdings from FTX to make investments. All of the individuals who lived in the penthouse “are, or used to be, paired up in romantic relationships with each other,” according to a report from CoinDesk based upon interviews with unnamed sources. Speculation mounted on social media as to whether the executives were engaged in a romantic network called a “polycule.”
Ray said elsewhere in the court document that the company formerly led by Bankman-Fried was extraordinarily mismanaged. “Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,” he wrote. “From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.”
The attorney added in the court document that his current objectives are implementing cybersecurity, risk management, data protection, and “other systems that did not exist,” as well as locating missing or stolen property and cooperating with relevant regulatory agencies in multiple jurisdictions. Bankman-Fried is reportedly seeking $8 billion from investors to cover withdrawal requests made by customers.