AUSTIN, Texas — SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci recounted the time he spent with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas during the firm’s harrowing final days, on Thursday during Consensus 2023.
Scaramucci served as a mentor and business partner to Bankman-Fried, coordinating the crypto wunderkind’s fundraising trips in North America and the Middle East before FTX’s implosion. FTX also purchased a 30% stake in SkyBridge Capital, deepening the ties between the firms’ founders.
But that relationship hit a rough patch in November, when a CoinDesk investigation revealed the now-bankrupt exchange might be on shaky financial footing. Soon after, Scaramucci flew to the Bahamas to talk in person with Bankman-Fried. It was there that he stumbled upon a “war room” of FTX executives, he said.
“The war room was despondent, and … it was clear to a few people that there was a very small group of people [at FTX] that had done some [bad] things,” Scaramucci said.
Financial crimes often happen when a small group of individuals plot among themselves, said Scaramucci, who compared FTX's alleged fraud to that of infamous Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.
“It's very hard to commit a crime like this with a large group of people because … there's always a person of conscience that comes out and says, ‘Hey, I don't want to do this,’” Scaramucci said.
At the center of the war room was Bankman-Fried, who looked “disassociated,” Scaramucci said.
“He was apologizing to me for what happened,” Scaramucci said. “He was claiming that [FTX’s shortfall] was [due to] mislabeling.”
Despite the drama during the exchange’s final days, its collapse has not affected SkyBridge as greatly as some media reports have suggested, Scaramucci said.
“We're sitting on ample cash on our balance sheet and ample crypto currency reserves,” Scaramucci said. “Some people in the press have written a couple of obituaries about SkyBridge, but I think our demise is greatly exaggerated.”
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