Sam Bankman Pride, founder of the collapsing crypto trading platform FTX, cracked a round of media interviews last week in an apparently desperate attempt to save his reputation. In most interviews, the former billionaire admitted to mistakes, “huge mistakes” and the lack of “serious thinking”, and added that he does not expect the public’s sympathy. “I don’t expect positive sentiment at all. I don’t think I deserve it,” he said.
In an interview he conducted with the Financial Times on Zoom from his home in the Bahamas, he explained that, for him, keeping silent would be seen “as confirmation of many theories” that were spread about his flawed conduct as the head of the company. “The situation has gotten to the point where a lot of baseless conspiracy theories have been spread,” he said. “Just to clarify, basically I messed up big time and people got hurt. You don’t need a conspiracy theory to understand that.” However, he denies that he acted with malice, and claims that he did not fully understand FTX’s financial situation until just days before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware court.
FTX, which at its peak was valued at $32 billion, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Bankman Pride (30) admitted to a closer involvement in the business decision-making at Almeda Research – the trading arm of FTX – than he had revealed so far. According to him, he deliberately avoided interfering in Almeda’s trading and risk management in order to avoid conflicts of interest with his role as CEO of FTX. However, he did confirm that he participated in meetings where they discussed the financial situation of Almeda. “I remember there were several discussions regarding the positions of Almeda. I don’t remember any numbers from these meetings,” he said. When asked why Almeda was allowed to borrow such large amounts of money from FTX, he replied: “I don’t feel good that I don’t know the answer.” In another interview, this time with the American ABC network, he added: “I didn’t put any time or effort into trying to manage the risks in FTX and that was obviously a mistake. If I spent an hour a day thinking about risk management in FTX, I don’t think it would have happened, and I don’t feel good about it,” he said.
In the same interview, he denied the allegations of the use of illegal drugs among the company’s employees and the rumors that he had a relationship with Carolyn Ellison, CEO of Alameda. According to him, their relationship lasted only six months. Too much time for dating.” He also added that he himself has never gotten drunk and that he takes medicine that helps him concentrate.
According to Bankman-Fried, who before the collapse his personal fortune was estimated at $20 billion, now he only owns an ATM card and has $100,000 in his bank account. “Basically I have nothing left,” he explained. “I have very few real friendships.” According to him, the reason for this is that his success made him feel “more like an object than anything” and therefore “it was difficult for me to develop close and real friendships or relationships. It was very difficult for me to find opportunities to talk to people as equals, and for them to feel comfortable and calm around me.”
In a tweet on Twitter yesterday, Bankman-Fried wrote that he intends to testify before the American Congress, but only after he finishes reviewing the developments that led to the collapse of the company. “After I finish studying and go over what happened, I will feel that it is my duty to appear before the committee and explain,” he tweeted. However, he added that it probably won’t happen before December 13, when the Financial Services Committee scheduled a hearing on the matter.
Although it is not certain that this media blitz will help Bankman-Pride’s situation, at least one person believes him now. Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman tweeted last week: “I may be crazy, but I think he’s telling the truth.”