20 billion dollars that evaporate in a few weeks.
Yesterday superstar of the cryptocurrency sector, today compared to Bernard Madoff, the author of the biggest financial scam in history: Sam Bankman-Fried fell from his pedestal after the bankruptcy of his FTX platform.
The entrepreneur is currently being prosecuted in particular for acts of electronic fraud and money laundering, after his arrest on Monday in the Bahamas.
“SBF” had acquired, in just a few years, a reputation as a successful boss and generous philanthropist.
A champion of better regulation of the cryptocurrency sector, this Californian had participated in the democratization of virtual currencies, becoming a darling of the media and a privileged interlocutor of the political world and regulators.
But the brutal implosion in November of FTX, still valued at $32 billion at the start of the year, revealed a character with disconcerting managerial practices, an expensive lifestyle and erratic behavior.
“Psychopath”, “compulsive liar”, “con man”
Changpeng Zhao, the boss of rival cryptocurrency platform Binance, recently called him a “psychopath”.
He's a "compulsive liar," according to Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres, a "con man" for CNBC columnist Jim Cramer.
Last summer, however, the prestigious magazine Fortune was still wondering if the 30-year-old entrepreneur was the "next Warren Buffet", legendary American billionaire compared to an oracle for his investment advice.
"Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of a company's control mechanisms and such a blatant absence of reliable financial information", lambasted in a court document last month John Ray, who replaced Sam Bankman-Fried to lead FTX after bankruptcy filing.
According to John Ray, expense reports were validated by emojis, and employees had dipped into the fund to buy residences in the Bahamas where FTX is based.
" I screwed up "
Sam Bankman-Fried, who denies any fraud, is mainly accused of having improperly used the money deposited by FTX users to finance risky bets from Alameda Research, a hedge fund he also created.
Several billion dollars contributed by FTX clients remain untraceable to this day.
In total, American justice has issued eight charges against Sam Bankman-Fried.
Arrested earlier this week in the Bahamas, he faces a long prison sentence.
“I would like to start by declaring formally and under oath: I screwed up,” he nevertheless planned to declare to American deputies on Tuesday during a hearing, in which he did not participate because of his arrest.
Bahamas: Former FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried arrested at US request
Cryptocurrencies: Bankrupt FTX owes over $3 billion to its 50 largest creditors