FTX CEO Warned Not to ‘Obstruct’ Bahamas Probe as He Gives Testimony

The Securities Commission said John J. Ray III had a "questionable agenda" as a row over bankruptcy proceedings deepens.

AccessTimeIconDec 13, 2022 at 4:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 13, 2022 at 8:07 p.m. UTC

The Bahamas securities regulator has reacted angrily to what it says are "misstatements" made by the chief executive of FTX, accusing John J. Ray III of obstructing an investigation into the collapsed crypto firm.

In a statement circulated as Ray gave evidence to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, the Bahamas Securities Commission said Ray was interested in headline grabbing rather than cooperating as a dispute over rival bankruptcy proceedings deepens.

“Key misstatements made by John J Ray III … do not appear to be concerned with facts but rather, appear intended only to make headlines and advance questionable agendas,” the regulator said in a statement.

Filings “were designed to create a false impression” of communications between former FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried and the Commission, the statement added.

A court filing made on Monday by FTX says that “Bankman-Fried and [co-founder Gary] Wang were in close and frequent contact with the Commission and the Attorney General throughout the week” of the crypto company’s collapse in early November. The filing by FTX cites an email sent to Attorney General Ryan Pinder in which Bankman-Fried said he would allow Bahamians to withdraw assets.

Ray’s filings “continue to wrongfully confuse” the Bahamas government, Commission and court-approved liquidators, the Commission’s media statement said.

“The Securities Commission continues to conduct a comprehensive and diligent investigation into the causes of FTX’s failure,” it added. “Unfortunately, it has been necessary for the Securities Commission to make a request to Mr. Ray’s representatives to not obstruct that investigation. Mr. Ray has not once reached out to the Securities Commission to discuss any of his concerns before airing them publicly.”

Lawyers are locked in a dispute over how to wind down Bankman-Fried’s sprawling empire, with Bahamian officials and former staffers demanding access to FTX IT systems, and saying that Bahamas villas purchased for FTX staff had been wrongfully included in Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearings begun in Delaware on Nov. 11.

On Monday, Pinder confirmed he had ordered Bankman-Fried’s arrest at the request of the U.S. authorities. On Tuesday, parallel charges were laid against the former chief executive by the U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

CORRECTION (Dec. 13, 17:39 UTC): Corrects wording in Monday court filing and the context for the "continue to wrongfully confuse" quote.


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.