On-Chain Data Shows Close Ties Between FTX and Alameda Were There From the Start: Nansen

Niklas Polk, a research analyst at the analytics firm, discusses its latest report, and what on-chain data reveals about the wallets used by FTX and Alameda.

AccessTimeIconNov 22, 2022 at 9:07 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:03 a.m. UTC
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Despite claims by the companies to the contrary, blockchain data shows crypto exchange FTX and sister company Alameda Research were very much connected from the beginning, said Niklas Polk, a research analyst at analytics firm Nansen.

Polk told CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Tuesday that on-chain data shows the two companies had been closely intertwined since 2019. But making sense of the data could be the reason why no one saw the FTX collapse coming. The centralized exchange capitalized on its obscurity, he said.

“We could see that something’s going on, that they’re closely connected, that there are sufficient flows,” Polk said, referring to Nansen’s latest report, which takes a deeper look at what may have been happening between the corporate siblings. “But since FTX is a centralized entity, you can’t really see what’s happening inside [and] you can’t really know how much money should be there.”

What was evident, said Polk, was that coins were flowing between wallets. Specifically, most of FTX’s native token, FTT, was found in the wallets of the exchange and Alameda, with only a fraction of tokens making it into circulation.

What Nansen suspects is the people responsible for the wallets may have been moving tokens between the two, making the interaction between the two supposedly separate companies closer than any two companies should ever be, according to Polk.

Even Tuesday, during FTX’s day in court, there were still some wallets, holding around $10.7 million worth of FTT tokens, according to Nansen, that remain in limbo.

“They’re still lying there today and we don’t know who those wallets belong to,” Polk said, adding that the tokens in some wallets “have never been touched.”

According to the firm’s report, whether FTX issued a loan to Alameda is “not directly visible on-chain” because of FTX’s centralized structure. However, Nansen implies that the $4 billion of FTT tokens Alameda deposited to FTX may have been used as a way to repay loans issued by FTX.

FTX and Alameda’s checkered synergy is “one of the big reasons why we have blockchains,” Polk said, adding that on-chain data is a way to provide “transparent” information to all users.

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Fran Velasquez

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.


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