The newly appointed CEO of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, John Ray III explained to lawmakers the absence of monitoring and financial controls that he found since taking over the business a month prior when he testifies before a House committee on Tuesday.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of FTX, was noticeably absent from the hearing before the House Financial Services Committee since he was detained in the Bahamas just hours before his scheduled testimony. The U.S. authorities, which on Tuesday unveiled criminal allegations against Bankman-Fried including wire fraud and money laundering, requested the arrest.
On November 11, 2023, when the company ran out of money following the cryptocurrency equivalent of a bank run, FTX filed for bankruptcy protection. The second-largest cryptocurrency exchange went under, drawing attention from across the world and raising concerns within the sector that the damage would spread. According to estimates, FTX clients could lose billions of dollars. Ray, who seized management of FTX on November 11, 2023 informed the committee that the issues at FTX were the result of months or perhaps years’ worth of poor choices and inadequate financial controls.
“This is not something that happened overnight or in a context of a week,” he said.
The situation at FTX, according to Ray, a seasoned expert in corporate restructuring, was worse than what he discovered at Enron two decades before. One of the largest business frauds in American history was Enron. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., pressed Ray for further information and he responded, “Literally, there’s no record-keeping whatsoever,” to the audience’s laughing. FTX’s finances were managed by staff using “QuickBooks”, a programme commonly used by small and medium-sized enterprises, according to Ray.
Ray portrayed a firm behaving with little to no oversight in his prepared statements. Ray stated that the reason for FTX Group’s collapse “appears to be the absolute concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals who failed to implement virtually any of the systems or controls that are necessary for a company that is entrusted with other people’s money or assets.”
In interviews since FTX sought bankruptcy protection, Bankman-Fried conceded that the business lacked sufficient corporate governance and financial controls but refuted claims of fraud.
Financial observers and US prosecutors took issue with that conclusion. The swift collapse of FTX was allegedly facilitated by Bankman-Fried, who is accused of concealing its issues from the public and investors and committing a number of financial crimes and campaign financing breaches, according to an indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday. Bankman-Fried was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of using investor funds for personal and family real estate purchases in an unauthorized manner.
These claims were reinforced by Ray’s remarks.
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