Sam Bankman-Fried sure isn’t going quietly into the night.
With his crypto empire in ruins, numerous federal probes and years of litigation hanging over his head, the FTX founder has counter-intuitively chosen to meet his critics head on and engage in a full-on media blitz.
Just this week, he has given an interview to Axios, had lengthy, beachside phone chats with crypto video blogger Tiffany Fong, posted online and appeared on Wednesday by videolink at the New York Times DealBook Summit.
Most CEOs facing similar challenges would stay silent (usually upon the advice of their lawyers), but not Bankman-Fried, who has opted to try to spin the narrative in wildly unfiltered ways, especially concerning reports that FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange Bankman-Fried founded, lent out billions of dollars in customer funds to his family office hedge fund, Alameda Research.
Here are 10 of the craziest things he has said in recent hours and days:
1. Was FTX a Ponzi scheme?
“I had a duty,” Bankman-Fried said at the DealBook Summit on Wednesday. “Clearly, I didn’t do a good job of that. Clearly, I made a lot of mistakes, things I would give anything to do over again. I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone. I saw it as a thriving growing business and I was shocked by what happened this month.”
2. Did Alameda raid the FTX piggy bank?
“I didn’t knowingly co-mingle funds,” he said at the DealBook Summit. “I wasn’t trying to co-mingle funds.
3. Really? Seriously? Was Alameda trying to raid the FTX piggy bank?
“I wasn’t running Alameda. I didn’t know what was going on,” he said to a follow-up question at the DealBook Summit.
4. So, then how did FTX customer funds end up being used by Alameda?
“It was a messy combination of things – a lot of things I should have caught and a lot of things I should have been way more cautious about,” he told vlogger Tiffany Fong.
5. Lawyers? Who needs lawyers?
“The first thing they said was, ‘Sam you have to promise that you will never ever say that you fucked up again.’ I told them to go fuck themselves. I don’t think they knew what they were talking about,” he told Fong.
6. Was FTX really his “personal fiefdom”?
“There’s certainly an extent to which that I wish there had been someone who wasn’t me who was in charge of managing conflicts of interest,” he said in his interview with Axios.
7. What does he think about talking to reporters?
“A boring story won’t sell. And so, they’re going to be trying to ask me like the most provocative possible questions, and you know, it’s whatever, it is what it is, but like it is a little bit of a perversion on sort of what is going on,” he said in his phone call with Fung.
8. Was there a secret tunnel to move funds from FTX to Alameda?
“I don’t even know how to code. I couldn’t build some backdoor into the system. I could barely use the system,” he told Fung.
9. Why did he let people in the Bahamas make withdrawals and no one else?
“You don’t want to be in a country with a lot of angry people in it and you do not want your country to be incorporated in a country with a lot of angry people in it,” he admitted to Fung.
10. Did he also give money to Republicans?
“All my Republican donations were dark but the reason was not for regulatory reasons, it was that reporters freak the fuck out when you donate to Republicans and I didn’t want to deal with that,” he told Fung.