Two luxury jets apparently owned by Sam Bankman-Fried, but never used by him, could possibly be forfeited as U.S. prosecutors try to claw back assets.
In a late Wednesday filing, a forfeiture bill issued by the Department of Justice listed two aircraft, a Bombardier Global and Embraer Legacy, as part of assets belonging to Bankman-Fried that could potentially be seized from him.
Bankman-Fried is currently undergoing criminal trial in New York on fraud and conspiracy charges linked to the collapse of his crypto exchange FTX in November 2022. He has pleaded not guilty.
Data from airplane trackers shows both jets listed as having “private” owners. The two aircraft are the subject of an ownership dispute between the DOJ and FTX, according to a Sept. 21 court filing made as part of bankruptcy proceedings for Bankman-Fried’s former company, which is seeking to recoup funds for the benefit of creditors.
“The Government has taken the position that both aircraft are subject to forfeiture as property purchased with the proceeds of fraud,” while FTX claims ownership on the basis that alleged loans used to purchase the planes were not documented, said the filing by Island Air Capital (IAC).
IAC wants to know who will foot the bill for ongoing repairs and inspections while that dispute is settled, and said that in practice nobody associated with FTX ever flew on either plane as they were still being upgraded when the company filed for bankruptcy.
The Embraer was originally bought by IAC for $12.5 million and the Bombardier for $15.9 million using “financing provided from FTX,” the filing said, detailing an unsecured, no-interest loan agreed to in a "handshake deal" between Bankman-Fried and IAC's owner, Paul Aranha.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.