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FTX founder Bankman-Fried arrested in the Bahamas

FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been arrested by authorities in the Bahamas, the latest dramatic turn in a spectacular scandal that has rocked the crypto world.

Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, confirmed the arrest of the 30-year-old former billionaire and political megadonor in a tweet from his office’s official account.

“Earlier this evening, Bahamian authorities arrested Samuel Bankman-Fried at the request of the U.S. Government, based on a sealed indictment filed by the SDNY,” Williams wrote. “We expect to move to unseal the indictment in the morning and will have more to say at that time.”

Bankman-Fried’s arrest comes the night before he was scheduled to testify remotely in front of the House Financial Services Committee, which is investigating the collapse of his multibillion-dollar crypto empire. Bankman-Fried — who until early November was the toast of Washington policy circles — has faced mounting allegations that he misused FTX customer assets to prop up his investment firm Alameda Research.

In prepared testimony for House Financial Services, the company’s new CEO John Ray III, wrote that Alameda used client funds to engage in margin trading, exposing customers to massive losses.

“[T]he FTX Group’s collapse appears to stem from the absolute concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals who failed to implement virtually any of the systems or controls that are necessary for a company that is entrusted with other people’s money or assets,” Ray, who stepped in as the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange’s top executive last month, wrote in prepared Congressional testimony on the exchange’s collapse.

FTX’s sudden downfall sparked criminal and civil investigations across the globe. Despite the looming legal threat, the disgraced crypto titan continued to make a series of public appearances in which he detailed FTX’s extensive accounting failures and how customer assets were routinely routed through Alameda.

“I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone,” Bankman-Fried said at the DealBook Summit in late November — three weeks after FTX filed for bankruptcy.

A government spokesperson in the Bahamas said in a statement that Bankman-Fried’s arrest “followed receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges against SBF and is likely to request his extradition.”

The spokesperson added, “It was deemed appropriate for the Attorney General to seek SBF’s arrest and hold him in custody pursuant to our nation’s Extradition Act.”

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Author: POLITICO