According to a report published on Monday by CEO John J. Ray III, FTX senior leaders had been lying to banks about misusing and commingling customer deposits since at least 2020. The now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange, which claimed to be the forerunner in customer protection efforts in the crypto industry, was accused of pretending to be loyal to investors while executive leaders like Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang mixed customer deposits with corporate funds and “misused them with abandon.”
The report claimed that FTX Senior Executives, including Bankman-Fried, Wang, and Director of Engineering Nishad Singh, used the combined customer and corporate funds for speculative trading, venture investments, luxury properties, as well as political and other donations. These activities were allegedly intended to elevate their own power and influence.
According to the report, when FTX went bankrupt, it owed customers nearly $8.7 billion.
FTX Executives and the Elusive Business License
FTX executives, led by co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, employed a range of deceptive tactics to secure a business license. According to Ray’s court filing, a former Bahamian government official, who was acting as an attorney, was allegedly offered an extraordinary $1 million “bonus” to expedite the licensing process. Surprisingly, FTX Digital Markets managed to obtain the license within an incredibly short period of six weeks, which was seen as a significant accomplishment. The alleged involvement of a senior FTX Group attorney and others raises suspicions of collusion, deceit, and a deliberate attempt to mislead banks and auditors.
Avoiding Accountability by Shifting Jurisdictions
In an effort to avoid stringent oversight and regulatory constraints, FTX executives engineered a relocation of the company from the United States to the Bahamas. Carolyn Ellison, who oversaw Alameda Research, stated that this decision was motivated by the Bahamas’ reputation for having a “friendly” regulatory environment that aimed to streamline bureaucratic processes. This strategic maneuver allowed FTX to sustain its operations while evading close scrutiny from authorities. The court documents detail how, at the request of the FTX Group, Attorney-1 facilitated the relocation and efficiently obtained the required business license. This calculated migration enabled FTX to continue its activities without hindrance.
Commingling Funds and Luxury Real Estate
The allegations against FTX Digital Markets have taken a dark twist, with Ray’s revelation that FTX executives intentionally mixed customer deposits with corporate funds. Shockingly, a staggering $243 million was then used to acquire opulent real estate properties in the Bahamas, not only for FTX Group employees but also for their friends and family. These purchases were primarily facilitated through FTX Property Holdings Ltd., a subsidiary established in the Bahamas in July 2021. However, the funds for these acquisitions were sourced from FTX DM’s operating account, which contained both customer and corporate funds. This mingling of assets raises significant concerns regarding the potential misappropriation of customer-deposited assets.
Customer Funds Misappropriation Unveiled
In the final disclosure, Ray reveals that FTX.com exchange misused roughly $8.7 billion worth of customer-deposited assets, most of which were cash and stablecoin. This shocking revelation has left FTX customers surprised and uncertain about their funds’ safety. The scale of financial mismanagement in FTX Digital Markets raises concerns over the company’s credibility, regulatory oversight, and customer deposit protection measures.
FTX Digital Markets is embroiled in a controversy, battling accusations of corruption, fraud, and customer fund abuse. The court filings by John Ray III paint a devastating picture of a deceitful plot masterminded by FTX executives. As investigations and legal battles unfold, the full extent of the scandal’s impact on stakeholders remains unknown.