John Jay Ray III, who led disgraced energy titan Enron through rocky bankruptcy proceedings and a slew of settlements in the early-mid 2000s, has taken over as CEO at beleaguered crypto exchange FTX.
Now-former CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried, who led FTX to its major international crypto presence, resigned the same day as the company’s bankruptcy filing, Friday morning.
Ray has garnered a reputation for having something of a Midas touch with troubled companies. Previously, the turnaround titan served as a chief restructuring officer and plan administrator in high-profile bankruptcy cases involving prominent companies Overseas Shipholding Group and Nortel Networks.
During his time at Enron, Ray spearheaded efforts to put more than $20 billion back into the hands of bamboozled investors. He also earned a reputation for standing up to Wall Street and its interests.
"He's making us look good," people close to Enron creditors told the Chicago Tribune in 2007. "He's like a pit bull, and he's not going to let go."
FTX’s executive shuffle comes as the firm faces mounting legal troubles, including a joint investigation into its mismanagement of users funds led by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Gabriella Kusz, CEO of the Global Digital Asset and Cryptocurrency Association, says FTX’s legal and financial troubles echo those of Enron in the early 2000s and will, she hopes, steer the industry toward change in the long run.
"It appears that the crypto industry is having a bit of an ‘Enron’ moment,'' said Kusz. “We believe that similar to post-Enron, individuals and institutions will move capital away from less regulated, less transparent exchanges and towards those which have built heavily compliant, regulated and transparent operations.”
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