A former high-level FTX executive tipped off Bahamian officials about client fund transfers from the spiraling crypto exchange to sister company Alameda Research two days before the platform filed for bankruptcy, and pointed to other FTX leaders, including founder Sam Bankman-Fried, court filings show.
Bahamian officials claim in documents filed Wednesday that during a conference call on Nov. 9, then-FTX Digital co-CEO Ryan Salame informed them that client assets "which may have been held" at the exchange were transferred to Alameda "to cover financial losses" at the hedge fund.
Salame purportedly warned that the transfers "were not allowed or consented to" by the clients, and said the only individuals with access to carry out the unauthorized payments were Bankman-Fried, FTX director of engineering Nishad Singh or co-founder Zixiao (Gary) Wang.
The revelations prompted Bahamian officials to request a police investigation into FTX the same day, given that the transfer of client funds could be criminal.
Salame's chat with the Bahamian authorities occurred while FTX was in free fall. Over the three days leading up to the Nov. 9 conversation, FTX reportedly saw roughly $6 billion of withdrawals in a run on the bank that left Bankman-Fried scrambling to save his empire. On Nov. 11, FTX filed for bankruptcy.
Bankman-Fried was arrested earlier this week on several charges related to the collapse, and he remains jailed in the Bahamas.
In addition to several fraud counts, Bankman-Fried – who donated nearly $40 million to Democratic campaigns and groups during the 2022 election cycle – was charged with violating campaign finance laws.
So, far, Sam Bankman-Fried is the only FTX executive to be charged over the crypto exchange's downfall, which resulted in billions of dollars of losses to customers.
Salame also made significant political donations during the midterms but favored the other side of the aisle. The New York Post reported that Salame gave $20 million to Republicans during the last cycle.