Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has deflected questions about whether he could be jailed, pushing back at critics who compared him to the late Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.
The 30-year-old former crypto king claimed during an interview on Thursday On ABC’s Good Morning America, FTX’s collapse “reads very differently” than Madoff’s scheme to fleece investors out of billions during the Great Recession.
That’s despite questions that FTX owes many of its creditors billions of dollars in bankruptcy, as well as at least $1 billion in customer funds that are still missing.
“A lot of people look at you and see Bernie Madoff,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos told Bankman-Fried.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m not myself at all, but I understand why they say that,” Bankman-Fried responded. “People lost money and people lost a lot of money. In the end, look, what happened and why, and who did what, what caused it. I think it reads very differently. “
“When you look at the classic story of Bernie Madoff, there was no real business,” Bankman-Fried added. “As I understand it, it was all one big Ponzi scheme. FTX, it was real business.”
Bankman-Fried’s ABC interview is part of an ongoing apology tour amid legal and regulatory scrutiny of FTX’s actions in the days before its collapse. During the interview, the former billionaire squirmed in his seat and took a long pause before answering direct questions about his mismanagement.
At one point, Stephanopoulos grilled Bankman-Fried about whether he feared jail time over the FTX crisis.
“I have a lot of things to worry about right now,” Bankman-Fried replied. “And, you know, as much as possible, I’m going to try to focus on what I can do to be helpful and to allow whatever regulatory and legal processes that happen to play out the way they want to.”
Stephanopoulos asked Bankman-Fried to answer whether he knew that FTX client funds were being diverted to help cover risky bets made by the platform’s sister cryptocurrency trading firm, Alameda Research, whose CEO was ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison.
After a long pause, Bankman-Fried said she was “not aware of any misuse of client funds.”
Bankman-Fried also reiterated his claim that FTX’s collapse effectively wiped out his personal wealth.
“Hopefully I won’t have anything at the end of this,” he said.
Last month, Reuters reported that Bankman-Fried had secretly transferred $10 billion in funds from an FTX client to Alameda Research. At least $1 billion of that money is missing.
Prominent critics include FTX’s new CEO, John Ray III, a veteran of the Enron bankruptcy, who said the accounting practices and corporate governance standards under Bankman-Fried were the worst he had seen in his career.
According to court documents and former employees, before FTX collapsed, it included $300 million in luxury real estate in the Bahamas and an all-expenses-paid package of trips, free massages and pampering. FTX has been found to have lavish spending habits, including a number of employee benefits packages. site barbershop.
During the interview, Bankman-Fried admitted that he had spent “no time or effort” on risk management at FTX.
Bankman-Fried also appeared at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Wednesday and said she “never tried to commit fraud.”