The decade's most triggering comedy
Had he not been locked away in some Bahamian jail on Tuesday morning, former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried could have been testifying before Congress. That testimony would have likely involved a lot of complaining about his lack of access to personal financial accounts and a substantial amount of blame-shifting.
FTX recently filed for bankruptcy after users discovered that the platform’s assets were commingled with those from sister trading firm Alameda Research; both were controlled by Bankman-Fried and a group of amateur executives working from a luxury penthouse in the Bahamas. The former billionaire entrepreneur was arrested on Monday afternoon by authorities in the island nation, where his companies were headquartered, under the expectation that American officials would soon request his extradition.
Bankman-Fried had previously promised to testify on Tuesday during a hearing for the House Financial Services Committee. Although he was never able to present before lawmakers, the transcript of the testimony Bankman-Fried would have delivered was obtained by Forbes.
The lengthy document is a whirlwind of laments about the company’s current bankruptcy proceedings, complaints regarding his lack of access to personal financial information, and a stunning degree of blame-shifting. The document lacked admissions of his own alleged criminal behavior, even though the Securities and Exchange Commission has now officially accused the entrepreneur of money laundering, but was filled with dirty laundry and personal grievances.
“I would like to start by formally stating, under oath: I f***ed up,” the failed would-be wunderkind wrote. “I know that it doesn’t mean much to say that I’m sorry. And so I’m dedicating as much of myself as I can to doing right by customers. When all is said and done, I’ll judge myself primarily by one metric: whether I have eventually been able to make customers whole. If I fail our customers in this regard, I have failed myself.”
The possible financial criminal also complained that John Ray III, an attorney overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings of FTX, would not give him access to his accounts or accept his other overtures. Ray told the House Financial Services Committee that the collapse “appears to stem from the absolute concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals.”
Bankman-Fried seemed to attribute some degree of public criticism to his Jewish identity. “My ancestors mostly arrived at Ellis Island,” he said. “I’ll leave it to the reader to guess why they came. But I don’t think I need to spell out the implications being made.”
Various reports claimed that Bankman-Fried and his fellow executives, like the companies they ran, were personally and intimately intertwined. He said that rumors of a “hard-partying culture” at FTX were spurious, as he apparently did not have his first drink until he reached 21 years old and has “never been drunk.”
Bankman-Fried contributed roughly $39 million to Democratic nominees during the recent midterm election cycle, according to data from Open Secrets, which ranked him as the country’s sixth-largest individual midterm donor. He also insisted that his only links to Ukraine involved opening pathways for users to make cryptocurrency donations to the embattled nation’s central bank, calling any allegations of further entanglement between the foreign country and Democratic officials “categorically false and offensive.”
Media outlets had painted Bankman-Fried as an “effective altruist” devoted to giving away his entire fortune. Though he admitted that such an image was largely a ruse, the transcript doubled down on the charitable endeavors he participated in with other people’s money. “My primary goal has never been personal enrichment; I’m motivated by a commitment to help bring happiness and alleviate suffering for others,” he said, noting that his contributions “vastly outstring what’s left in my bank account.”