Sam Bankman-Fried has apologized for the crisis engulfing his financial empire, admitting that crypto exchange FTX did not have enough readily available funds to face a $5 billion wave of customer withdrawals.
In a series of tweets published Thursday, Bankman-Fried said: “I’m sorry. That’s the biggest thing. I was pissed off, and should have done better.”
Bankman-Fried’s My fault comes as FTX, one of the world’s largest crypto trading venues, teeters on the brink of collapse. The 30-year-old executive said on Thursday that the exchange had just $400 million in readily marketable U.S. dollar assets to cover a record $5 billion surge in redemption requests on Sunday.
Before the crisis, he had believed that the exchange had 24 times the average daily withdrawal of liquidity in US dollars available.
The admission by Bankman-Fried, whose personal fortune was estimated at $24 billion just months ago, casts new doubt on whether clients will be made whole. He said the value of the group̵[ads1]7;s assets exceeded customer deposits, but that “liquidity varies widely, from very to very little.”
“Every penny of that – and of the existing security – will go straight to the users, unless or until we have done right by them,” he vowed.
Bankman-Fried’s woes began late last week when crypto industry publication CoinDesk reported that a large portion of the assets backing the executive’s trading house Alameda Research were in FTT, a coin issued by FTX.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, Bankman-Fried’s archrival, said Sunday that his exchange would liquidate its FTT holdings, igniting both a selloff of the token and a run on FTX.
Bankman-Fried said Thursday that he plans to wind down trading at Alameda, and also said he was prepared to step down as head of FTX.
Binance on Tuesday floated a deal to save FTX, but backed out a day later, citing concerns about FTX’s business practices and reported investigations by US regulators.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has expanded an investigation into FTX, which includes examining the platform’s cryptocurrency lending products and the management of customer funds, a person familiar with the matter said.
Wall Street’s regulator launched the probe months ago but sought additional information after Binance’s acquisition plans were announced on Tuesday, the person added. The SEC is also investigating FTX’s relationship with a US entity, FTX US.
Bankman-Fried said on Thursday that users of FTX.US, which is a separate entity from his main international exchange, “are doing well”. Hours later, the website FTX.US announced that trading on the platform may be halted within days and urged users to close any positions they wish to close. “Withdrawals are and will remain open,” it added.
The crisis in FTX has also dealt prominent investors a blow.
Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital said it would reduce its $214 million investment in FTX to zero after a run on the stock market in recent days blew a massive hole in its balance sheet and cast serious doubt on its survival. “In recent days, a liquidity crisis has created solvency risk for FTX,” Sequoia said in a note Wednesday to investors in the fund.
Other backers, including SoftBank, Tiger Global, BlackRock and hedge fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and Izzy Englander, also face losses.
“It’s too crazy”: Customers weigh in
The crisis on the crypto exchange FTX has caused thousands of customers to prepare for losses, with some anger directed at the company’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Users have not been able to withdraw their money for several days, and the company’s website is now advising[ing]” users not to deposit money.
“It’s too crazy,” said 21-year-old Matthias, who said he has $1,700 tied up in the exchange. “FTX had a large following and a great reputation. The whole situation is going to make crypto as a whole look more volatile, which does [decentralised finance] more or less useless.”
“I feel like shit,” added 21-year-old Shadan Shoeb from India who started trading on FTX in April and said he has $2,300 stuck on the exchange. “That’s all I’ve made for the last six months . . . I trusted [FTX and Bankman-Fried] but it seems all is lost.”