Bahamian regulator says it seized $3.5 billion of FTX crypto assets for ‘safekeeping’

Technology

The FTX logo on a laptop screen.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Securities Commission of The Bahamas says it seized $3.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency from collapsed crypto exchange FTX.

In a media release late Thursday, the watchdog confirmed the total sum taken from FTX’s Bahamian subsidiary, FTX Digital Markets, and added that the funds were moved into its own digital wallets “for safekeeping.”

The regulator had previously confirmed it was holding some of FTX’s digital assets but did not specify the amount.

The funds were valued at more than $3.5 billion, based on market pricing at the time of transfer, according to the commission. The transfer took place Nov. 12, the day after FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

The Bahamian securities commission said the funds are being held on a “temporary basis” until it is directed by the Bahamas’ Supreme Court to deliver them to customers and creditors, or to liquidators of the insolvency estate.

The regulator said it took the funds after receiving information from Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX’s disgraced co-founder, concerning cyberattacks on the systems of FTX’s Bahamian unit.

There was “significant risk of imminent dissipation” of the assets under FTX Digital Markets’ control, it said.

After FTX filed for bankruptcy, it was targeted in a suspected hack that saw $477 million drained from the firm’s crypto wallets. The identity of the perpetrator is not yet known.

The Bahamian regulator has been scrutinized over its role in the FTX collapse and subsequent legal proceedings.

The commission wanted to handle insolvency proceedings for FTX in the Bahamas. But FTX’s U.S. lawyers contested the move, alleging in a Nov. 17 filing that the regulator coordinated with Bankman-Fried to gain “unauthorized access” to FTX systems to transfer digital assets to its own custody.

In response, the Bahamian regulator said that the claims were “inaccurate,” and that its decision to move the funds was taken to protect the interests of clients and investors.

Bankman-Fried, 30, also FTX’s former CEO, was arrested in the Bahamas and subsequently extradited to the United States, where he is awaiting trial on charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and violate campaign finance laws.

He was released last week on $250 million bail, and has reportedly been receiving visitors at his parents’ California home, including “The Big Short” author Michael Lewis.

Bankman-Fried is expected to be arraigned and enter a plea in federal court in Manhattan on Jan. 3.

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