SBF wrote that Binance leaked balance sheet to CoinDesk in internal memo, court evidence shows

Quick Take

  • A November 2022 internal document presented Wednesday as an exhibit at federal court shows that Sam Bankman-Fried thought Binance, FTX’s rival, leaked an Alameda balance sheet to the media.

Evidence presented as part of Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial shows that he held Binance responsible for leaking a balance sheet for Alameda Research to CoinDesk, the media outlet — a key episode in the collapse of FTX and his crypto empire. 

Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison testified on Wednesday that Bankman-Fried had prepared a memo, dated November 6, 2022, outlining potential investors he and others planned to reach out to for a bailout.

In the document, Bankman-Fried wrote that Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, had been “engaging in a PR campaign against us.” 

“They leaked a balance sheet; blogged about it; fed it to Coindesk; then announced very publicly that they were selling $500m of FTT in response to it, while telling customers to be wary of FTX,” the document said.

On November 2, CoinDesk reported, citing an Alameda balance sheet, that FTX’s sister trading firm was on potentially shaky footing. The report was widely considered a catalyst for the collapse of FTX, which resulted in a disastrous chain of events across the crypto industry.

Binance did not immediately respond to The Block’s comment request on the matter.

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In the same document, Bankman-Fried put Justin Sun, founder of TRON and advisor of Huobi exchange, as a potential investor to reach out to, but added it “turns out he’s close to CZ.”

The failed crypto exchange founder also listed a few potential “to-dos” that included sending a confident tweet thread, which Ellison testified that Bankman-Fried did in fact publish.

Also in the document, Bankman-Fried noted that at that point, FTX was capitalized but not infinitely liquid. Ellison clarified at the court that the note meant that out of the $12 billion of client assets on the exchange, FTX had just one-third of that, “so $4 billion available to process their withdrawals.”

Bankman-Fried currently faces seven charges of fraud in the trial that began last week. He’ll face a separate trial scheduled for March 2024 on other charges including bank fraud and foreign bribery conspiracy.

Ellison is scheduled for cross-examination by the defense on Thursday.

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.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Timmy Shen is an Asia reporter for The Block. Previously, he wrote about crypto and Web3 for Forkast.News from Taiwan after spending more than three years in Beijing covering finance and current affairs at Caixin Global and Chinese tech at TechNode. His China-related reporting has also appeared in The Guardian. When he's not chasing headlines, you'll find him savoring hot pot and shabu shabu in a Taipei local haunt. Timmy holds an MS degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Send tips to [email protected] or get in touch on X/Telegram @timmyhmshen.


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