Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of now-bankrupt FTX, has fallen from the peak of crypto celebrity, but he’s not going quietly. In back-to-back interviews, he’s portrayed himself as a clumsy and repentant businessman.
“I think I got a little cocky — I mean, more than a little bit,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.
A key question for Bankman-Fried is whether FTX, his crypto exchange platform, misappropriated customers’ money when it lent billions of dollars to his hedge fund, Alameda.
Bankman-Fried, echoing comments he also made to The New York Times on Wednesday, denied knowing of any improper transfers of customer funds between the exchange and Alameda.
“I really deeply wish that I had taken like a lot more responsibility for understanding what the details were of what was going on there,” he told Stephanopoulos. “A lot of people got hurt, and that’s on me.”
Since Bankman-Fried’s nearly overnight turn from crypto celebrity to pariah, commentators have drawn comparisons to Bernie Madoff, the financier convicted of running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors.
“I don’t think that’s who I am at all, but I understand why they’re saying that,” Bankman-Fried told Stephanopoulos. “When you look at the classic Bernie Madoff story, there was no real business there … FTX — that was a real business.”
His ABC interview, recorded in The Bahamas last week, aired just hours after Bankman-Fried’s livestreamed interview with The New York Times Wednesday evening. In that interview, Bankman-Fried said he “didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone,” while admitting he made mistakes as chief executive.
Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO of FTX after it and dozens of affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy November 11, in one of the most stunning corporate implosions ever. Almost overnight, customers around the world were left scrambling to recover billions of dollars in funds that they’d deposited on the platform. Bankman-Fried’s own multibillion-dollar personal wealth evaporated, and crypto firms with financial exposure to FTX began to buckle.
The collapse of FTX is under investigation by federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, according to a person familiar with the matter, and by authorities in The Bahamas, where the companies were based. Several financial regulators have also been in contact with the firm’s new management, led by restructuring specialists tasked with shepherding FTX through bankruptcy.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyer didn’t respond to requests for comment.
— CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed reporting.