Episode 121 of Season 4 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block's Frank Chaparro, and Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder of FTX and Alameda Research.
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In this episode of The Scoop, Sam Bankman-Fried describes how a legacy payment system linked FTX’s future to Alameda Research’s fate, and explores why regulators and auditors alike failed to discover this relationship.
According to Bankman-Fried, many FTX customers would fund their accounts via direct wire transfers to Alameda Research bank accounts:
“What that flow I think looked like was basically: Bob wires $100 straight to Alameda Research, and then Alameda effectively ledger transfers $100 to Bob on FTX.”
SBF has claimed that wired customer funds contributed to over half of Alameda’s position on FTX, likely totaling over $5 billion, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In hindsight, SBF says a “reasonably responsible” way of managing direct wire transfers would have been only debiting Alameda’s primary FTX account. In practice, however, wired customer funds were being credited from an Alameda stub account that SBF says “was specifically meant to be a ledger for wire transfers.”
When pressed on how regulators and auditors failed to uncover the extent of Alameda’s relationship to FTX, SBF alleged that customer positions — including Alameda’s — were not part of FTX’s balance sheet:
“This was effectively a customer negative position, and many customers had negative positions open on FTX … Those were not part of FTX's assets or liabilities, they were customer assets and liabilities, and so FTX's financials were not directly impacted by this.”
During this episode, Chaparro and Bankman-Fried also discuss:
- Why top executives were extended large personal lines of credit
- If a BlockFi loan was used to purchase Robinhood equity
- Whether or not FTX effectively contributed to charity
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Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
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