US Senators Demand Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX Execs Be Held Accountable to 'Fullest Extent of the Law’

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a Wednesday letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland they want Sam Bankman-Fried and others investigated.

AccessTimeIconNov 23, 2022 at 4:42 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 23, 2022 at 7:13 p.m. UTC

Two U.S. senators are demanding the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate the “disturbing allegations of fraud and illicit behavior that led to the collapse of [FTX]” and hold the company’s executives “to the fullest extent of the law.”

In the letter on Wednesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) reminded Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite of the DOJ’s recently renewed commitment to prosecuting white-collar criminals. The senators want them to honor that commitment when investigating the behavior of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and other executives “with the utmost scrutiny.”

Warren, a long-time critic of the crypto industry, has closely monitored the collapse of the Bahamas-based FTX, as well as the ripple effects that collapse has had across the wider industry.

On Tuesday, Warren, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) sent a letter to Fidelity, asking the financial services firm to reconsider allowing retail clients to include bitcoin in their retirement plans. Last week, Warren and Durbin wrote to Bankman-Fried and FTX’s current CEO, John Jay Ray III, asking for information about what precipitated the exchange’s collapse.

In addition to the knock-on effect across the wider crypto industry, Warren and Whitehouse’s letter expresses concerns about the impact of FTX’s implosion on retail investors, who they say were given a “false sense of safety and legitimacy” by FTX’s “high-dollar advertisement placements and celebrity endorsements.”

Though the letter urges the DOJ to investigate and prosecute all FTX executives potentially embroiled in the alleged fraud, Bankman-Fried bears the brunt of Warren and Whitehouse’s ire.

“The fall of FTX was not simply a result of sloppy business and management practices, but rather appears to have been caused by intentional and fraudulent tactics employed by Mr. Bankman-Fried and other FTX executives to enrich themselves,” the senators wrote. “In fact, Mr. Bankman-Fried had already revealed his true interests of self-enrichment last year when he siphoned $300 million to his own wallet.”


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Cheyenne Ligon

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.