Sam Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old former boss of FTX Exchange has promised to repay investors that lost money in the collapsed FTX.
Bankman-Fried faces several federal investigations into his former company’s handling of funds.
FTX crypto Exchange allowed customers to trade normal money for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and before its collapse was the second largest in the world, trading about US$10bn of cyrpto coins every day.
On Friday, 11th November 2022, FTX commenced voluntary bankruptcy proceedings in the United States, days after larger rival Binance abandoned plans to acquire FTX and left the exchange with the task of raising roughly $9 billion from investors and rivals to stay afloat.
It is estimated that more than a million FTX users are locked out of their crypto wallets and cannot access their funds.
At an interview with BBC in a luxury complex in the Bahamas, the former billionaire denied fraud, saying he was “not nearly as competent as I thought I was.”
“I’m going to be thinking about how we can help the world and if users haven’t gotten much back, I’m going to be thinking about what I can do for them. And I think at the very least I have a duty to FTX users to do right by them as best as I can,” he told BBC in the interview.
Asked if he planned to start a new business venture to earn the money to pay investors back, he said: “I would give anything to be able to do that. And I’m going to try if I can.”
Bankruptcy lawyers in U.S.A accuse Mr. Bankman-Fried of running the company as “his own personal fiefdom.”
The former CEO has accepted to attend US Senate Banking Committee hearings into the collapsed exchange in the coming week.
At the top of a long list of alleged failings, there are allegations that Mr Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research hedge fund was using FTX customers’ money to make risky financial bets.
Asked whether he was fraudulent or incompetent, he replied: “I didn’t knowingly commit fraud, I don’t think I committed fraud, I didn’t want any of this to happen. I was certainly not nearly as competent as I thought I was.”
Mr Bankman-Fried, who comes from a wealthy family, claims to be concerned about his own personal finances with no access to his bank accounts and “less than $100K left”.
When asked if he is certain when the dust has settled and all the investigations has happened that he won’t be arrested for fraud, he answered that;
Ï don’t think I will be, I don’t think I tried to do anything wrong. I obviously did the wrongs things, like you don’t get to where we are if the right things happened.
When asked if he is preparing for the possibility of arrest and prison, he said: “There’s some time at night ruminating, yes, but when I get up during the day, I try and focus, be as productive as I can and ignore things that are out of my control.”
Bankman-Fried’s team say they had to relocate to an unknown location in the luxurious Bahamian resort where he now lives, because of “security concern.”
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur