FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, has decided to abandon its plans for revival and instead, liquidate all its assets to repay its customers. This decision was announced by FTX’s attorney, Andy Dietderich, during a bankruptcy court hearing in Delaware. Despite months of negotiations with potential investors and bidders, none were willing to invest the necessary funds to rebuild the exchange.
The failure of these negotiations highlighted the harsh reality that FTX was not what it initially appeared to be. Bankman-Fried had not established the necessary underlying technology or administrative infrastructure to operate FTX as a viable business. This revelation led to the conclusion that FTX was, in the words of Dietderich, “an irresponsible sham created by a convicted felon.”
Legal consequences and customer repayment
Bankman-Fried, now a convicted felon, faces decades in prison for fraud charges related to his operation of FTX. The company’s focus has now shifted to liquidating its assets to repay customers whose cryptocurrency deposits were frozen when the company filed for bankruptcy in November 2022.
FTX has managed to recover over $7 billion in assets to repay its customers and has reached agreements with government regulators. These regulators have agreed to delay their attempts to collect on about $9 billion in claims until customers are fully repaid. FTX expects to repay all customers in full, but the repayment will be calculated based on cryptocurrency prices from November 2022, a time when the cryptocurrency market was experiencing a prolonged slump.
This decision has led to numerous complaints from customers who feel short-changed by the use of November 2022 prices, especially considering the significant increase in the price of Bitcoin since then. In November, a Manhattan federal jury found Bankman-Fried guilty on seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
Prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of siphoning “stolen funds” to enrich himself and cover high-risk investments made by Alameda, and of boosting his luxury lifestyle with “exorbitant spending unrelated” to FTX operations. This included $100 million in political contributions, A-list celebrity endorsements, and personal expenses such as $200 million in Bahamas property and repaying loans given to Alameda, which faced an $8 billion budget shortfall as the crypto market plummeted in 2022.
Bankman-Fried was accused of defrauding FTX customers out of about $10 billion. His fraudulent activities extended from 2019 to November 2022, when FTX collapsed under the weight of a liquidity crisis caused by lending customer funds to Alameda Research, FTX’s sister hedge fund, without informing them. Bankman-Fried admitted to “large mistakes” in his management of the exchange during his testimony, including never putting a risk management team in place. He now faces a long prison term at a sentencing hearing set for 28 March by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan.