In an interview with crypto advocate and journalist Tiffany Fong published on November 29, 2022, former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) talked about various burning topics. In the interview, SBF speculated who might have hacked FTX and flatly denied that he had set up a backdoor to transfer money from FTX to Alameda Research.
SBF emphasized to Fong, "I don't even know how to code," throughout the interview. As an added bonus, the New York Times alleges to have uncovered a trove of emails and text conversations between FTX's legal counsel, other key officials, and SBF as the exchanges were collapsing.
"Definitely not true," SBF said of the allegations of a backdoor, calling them instead "probably a poorly labeled accounting thing."
The SBF Interview
Approximately two weeks ago, SBF had a telephonic interview with Tiffany Fong. Fong announced the phone interview a few days before its publication, and on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, Youtube uploaded their conversation with SBF. (1) (2)
During their conversation, SBF emphasized the need to be careful with one's choices to avoid ending up in a precarious scenario like the one in which they found themselves. I could have avoided a lot of trouble by simply being more cautious. A Reuters article claimed that "executives put up a book-keeping backdoor," and Fong addressed this claim in an interview.
On Allegations of Backdoor in FTX codes
When asked by Fong about the "backdoor" allegations, SBF flatly rejected them, saying, "I literally never accessed the codebase for any of FTX. No, that's absolutely not the case..." The former FTX CEO admitted, "I don't even know how to code."
SBF claimed he was unclear on the specifics of Reuters' backdoor report. However, SBF speculated that it could have been a "poorly classified accounting issue" and admitted, "I was mistaken... I was off by a big margin, an embarrassing amount when I estimated Alameda's FTX balances.
On the Subject of Making Donations to Republicans
Interviewing Fong, SBF discussed American campaign finance and the millions of dollars FTX's upper management gave to the two major political parties in the United States.
The FTX co-founder said he secretly gave to the GOP to please liberal media, although it is well-known that SBF gave to the Democrats. "What I gave to each party was almost the same," Bankman-Fried claimed.
During their phone discussion, SBF told Fong,
"All my Republican donations went dark. There was no need to comply with any rules or regulations. The press is quite leftist, and I didn't feel like picking a fight with them if I gave to the Republican party."
On FTX Account Hack
Additionally, SBF assured Fong that the rumors about FTX and Ukraine were untrue, but he did confess a desire to be "part of a worldwide conspiracy so exciting." Bankman-Fried also discussed the hacker who emptied FTX's bank accounts on the day the company declared bankruptcy.
As far as the FTX co-founder is concerned, "it was limited down to like eight people — I don't know which one it was." SBF also informed Fong that "eight minutes" after his exchange filed for bankruptcy protection, he was able to acquire funds in the amount of $4 billion from an unnamed fund. In addition, SBF was a firm believer that FTX's FTT token was superior to many other tokens despite the fact that it was owned by a very small number of wallets and still is.
"I think [FTT token] was basically more authentic than a lot of tokens in certain aspects," SBF said during his interview with Fong. He elaborated that the token "had greater economic backing than the typical token."
On Allegations of Ignoring Warning Signs While Running FTX
The New York Times (NYT) published an article by David Yaffe-Bellany on the same day that Fong revealed her interview with SBF, and the article included quotes from "dozens of pages of emails and private chats" obtained by the NYT (3).
According to the study, there was "no coordination" between FTX and SBF before the collapse of the exchange.
The New York Times reports that documents show FTX's legal advisors and other top executives wanted SBF to relinquish responsibility and prepare for bankruptcy proceedings promptly. Despite "growing evidence to the contrary," the study states that "[SBF] rejected their warnings and clung to power."
During his interview with Fong, SBF stated that FTX preferred Bahamian withdrawals.
"I did it because you don't want to live in a country where many people are mad at each other," he said.
Ryne Miller, a former employee of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for more than three years, and a member of FTX's legal counsel, stated that "the exchanges must be terminated immediately."
On November 10, an email was sent to FTX employees stating,
"The founding team is not currently in a cooperative posture."
According to the NYT article, on the same day SBF informed the FTX team that he was attempting to acquire cash, Miller texted top executives to suggest that SBF's odds of success were "0% likely."
When things were looking very gloomy for the crypto exchange, FTX COO Constance Wang reportedly told staff, "I don't want to stop trying yet."
Yaffe-Bellany claims that Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison expressed concern that several FTX staff members might soon leave or take time off in a group conversation. According to the Yaffe-Bellany report, FTX executives "pressed the case with Mr. Bankman-father," Fried's Stanford Law professor Joe Bankman.
SBF ceded power to John Jay Ray III after he spoke with his father and allegedly discussed fundraising with Justin Sun, founder of Tron. Ray has been named CEO of FTX and is in charge of the company's bankruptcy and restructuring. In the five days after he handed up business leadership and FTX filed for bankruptcy, he spoke with Tiffany Fong.
Fong said she was "not expecting to have an unplanned phone contact [with] Sam Bankman-Fried" and that "SBF expresses sorrow in this interview" after the interview aired. At this year's New York Times Dealbook Summit on November 30, the ex-FTX CEO will also be in conversation with Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Caroline Ellison, CEO of Alameda, allegedly fled Hong Kong for Dubai, though this has not been proven. It is unclear where FTX co-founder Gary Wang is at the time of writing, and neither he nor FTX CEO Larry Ellison has given any interviews to the press.
Among Other Topics, Polyamory Was Also Discussed!
Polyamory was another topic on which SBF and Fong touched in their interview.
“If I may offer my two cents, I believe that we as a society have… All week I've been trying to find out if any Albany residents are polyamorous, and I've had enough. Honestly, I feel like I've answered that question a million times, and the truth is just too boring for most people to accept.”