Sam Bankman-Fried Blogs Like a Crypto Robin Hood, but in Court He's Not So Charitable

The FTX founder’s claimed largesse about giving his funds away contrasts with a legal battle to keep control of $450 million in shares – that were paid for a loan from Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research

AccessTimeIconJan 12, 2023 at 8:04 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 12, 2023 at 8:56 p.m. UTC

Sam Bankman-Fried’s surprise Substack post Thursday included these charitable lines: “Nearly all of my assets were and still are utilizable to backstop FTX customers,” he wrote. “I have, for instance, offered to contribute nearly all of my personal shares in Robinhood to customers.”

It sounds like the British folk hero and outlaw of the same name, Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor. As Bankman-Fried tells it on Substack, FTX users can have the stake in trading app Robinhood – worth about $450 million, though now seized by the U.S. Department of Justice – that he bought. A nice gesture, surely, as their money remains locked up.

But the swashbuckling hero’s tale is darker in court. In a Jan. 5 document filed with the Delaware bankruptcy court, Bankman-Fried resisted an attempt to transfer the 56 million Robinhood Markets (HOOD) shares to the estate of FTX – arguing both that he needed the funds to pay for his criminal defense and that FTX couldn’t prove he'd acquired the stock fraudulently.

The shares were acquired via a series of loans he and colleague Gary Wang had received from FTX’s trading arm, Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s filing said.

That’s legitimate, Bankman-Fried argued; the Substack post said he “didn’t steal funds.” Alameda’s ex-CEO Caroline Ellison has, however, pleaded guilty to charges including commodities fraud, which includes the allegation that she misappropriated FTX customer funds to satisfy Alameda’s souring loans.

Contacted by CoinDesk, a spokesperson for Bankman-Fried declined to comment on when and how he offered to cede the Robinhood securities (as he claimed to do in the Substack post).


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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.