12 Key Quotes from Sam Bankman-Fried's Interview with The New York Times
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12 Key Quotes from Sam Bankman-Fried's Interview with The New York Times

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2 months ago

Here are some of the best, and most enlightening, comments SBF made in an interview about how the exchange's collapse was all his fault, and yet he did nothing wrong.

12 Key Quotes from Sam Bankman-Fried's Interview with The New York Times

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FTX co-founder and crypto's favorite hero-turned-villain Sam Bankman-Fried just went on an hour-long self-justification rampage at the New York Times Dealbook Summit, explaining in eye-watering detail how loaning his trading firm $10 billion of other people's money that he'd been entrusted with was really all just a careless mistake by someone who really cared a lot.

The crypto exchange empire that saw him testifying before Congress, slapping his logo on stadiums and lauded as the JPMorgan of crypto for bailing out other companies six months ago — when trading firm Alameda Research was actually being crushed — lies in ruins in bankruptcy court.

Meanwhile there are a whole lot of unanswered questions ranging from "are you really as incompetent as you say" to "are you a con man and thief" that regulators, politicians, criminal investigators, as well as about a million customers looking at empty crypto wallets, want answered — or believe they already know the answer to.

With that in mind, here are some of the best of SBF's answers from the Nov. 30 Andrew Ross Sorkin interview:

On his competence

"I had a duty to all of our stakeholders, to our customers, to our creditors. I had a duty to our employees, to our investors and to the regulators of the world, to do right by them, to make sure that the right things happened at the company, and clearly I didn't do a good job of that."

On whether or not he is a crook

"I didn't ever try to commit fraud on anyone. I was excited about the prospects of FTX a month ago. I saw it as a thriving growing business. I was shocked by what happened this month."

On how he missed a $10 billion problem

"In terms of the accounting mistake, looking through what happened, I think that there is a substantial discrepancy between what the financials were — what the audited financials, the true financials were, what the [FTX] exchange understood, all of that was consistent — versus what the dashboards that we had displayed for Alameda's account there, which substantially under-display the size of that position. And so that's one of the reasons I was surprised when we dug into everything at how big that position had become."

On the relationship between Alameda and FTX

"I wasn't running Alameda, I didn't know exactly what was going on. I didn't know the size of their position… and obviously that's a pretty big mistake, a pretty big oversight — that I wasn't more aware. I think I was nervous, because of the conflict of interest, about being too involved.

On whether he commingled FTX customer funds with Alameda's funds

"One piece of this is you have margin trading — you know, customers borrowing from each other, Alameda is one of those. I was frankly surprised by how big Alameda's position was, which points to another failure of oversight on my part. And my failure to appoint someone to be chiefly in charge of that. I but I wasn't trying to commingle funds."

On FTX US's solvency

"The U.S.-regulated platform with American users, to my knowledge that's fully solvent, that's fully funded. And, you know, I believe that withdrawals could be opened up today, and everyone could be made whole — that none of these problems plague the US platform."

On his remaining personal wealth

"No, I don't have any hidden funds. Everything I have, I'm disclosing. I'm down to one working credit card left [and] I think $100,000 or something like that, in a bank account. Everything that I had, even all the loans I had, I was reinvesting in the businesses — I put everything I had into FTX."

On the tweets describing drug-fueled nights

"When we had parties, we played board games and 20% of people would have three-quarters of beer each or something like that. And the rest of us would not drink anything. I didn't see any illegal drug use around me — you know, at the office at these parties."

On his own drug use

"I can say for me, I've been prescribed various things at various times to help with focus and concentration. These have all just been totally on-label use of medications. I think these are things that, on the margin, helped me focus a little bit. I wish I had been a lot more focused over the last year.

On allegations of buying a house in the Bahamas for his parents with company funds

"I don't know the details of the house for my parents, but I knew that it was not intended to be their long-term property, it was always intended to be the company's property. I think they may have stayed there while working with the company sometime over the last year."

On why FTX was buying up so much property in the Bahamas, where it was headquartered

"There were a lot of property purchases in the Bahamas. The reason for that is we had, basically 100 top Silicon Valley employees come down here to work for FTX. And we were trying to incentivize that to make sure that they had an easy way to find a comfortable life, that they'd be willing to move and help build out the product."

On the possibility he'll go to jail

"There's a time and a place for me to think about myself and my own future. I don't think this is it."
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