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FTX crypto collapse: Ex-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried denies ‘improper use’ of customer funds

(NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS) — Sam Bankman-Fried, the embattled former CEO of cryptocurrency giant FTX and trading firm Alameda Research, told ABC News he was ultimately responsible for the downfall of both companies, but denied that he knew “that there was any improper use of customer funds.”

“I really, deeply wish that I had taken a lot more responsibility for understanding what the details were of what was going on,” he said. “I should have been on top of this, and I feel really, really bad and regretful that I wasn’t,” he said. “A lot of people got hurt. And that’s on me.”

Bankman-Fried spoke to George Stephanopoulos and ABC News for his first network interview since both companies in his cryptocurrency empire filed for bankruptcy this month. He addressed rumors that have swirled since the collapse and discussed his uncertain path forward. The interview took place in the Bahamas island of Nassau where FTX was headquartered.

Watch George Stephanopoulos’ full interview with Sam Bankman-Fried on “Good Morning America” on Thursday

FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in November after a rival cryptocurrency exchange announced it was backing out of a plan to acquire it. The filing follows reports that FTX used deposits to pay Alameda Research creditors, a claim reportedly made by former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison during a call in early November. Bankman-Fried said he was not aware that was true but said Alameda had a large position open on FTX that was “overcollateralized a year ago.” He also partially blamed a market collapse that “threatened that position quite a bit” as well as mismanagement.

Ellison did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

“I failed to have someone in place who was managing that risk, who was managing that position, managing that account. I failed to have proper oversight” that led to the crash of FTX, Bankman-Fried said.

In the interview, Bankman-Fried also denied he witnessed any illegal drug use by FTX employees, and he said reports that he and Ellison were in a polyamorous relationship are false and his romantic relationship with Ellison lasted only six months. “I lived with a bunch of monogamous couples when I was here, some of whom got married over the course of their time here. I don’t know of any polyamorous relationships within FTX.”

Bankman-Fried, 30, said he currently owns just one ATM card and has $100,000 in his bank account, a drastic reversal from the estimated $20 billion net worth that thrust him into the spotlight. He ultimately blamed the collapse of FTX on his struggle with risk management.

“There is something maybe even deeply wrong there, which was I wasn’t even trying. Like, I wasn’t spending any time or effort trying to manage risk on FTX and that that was obviously a mistake,” he said. “If I had been spending an hour a day thinking about risk management on FTX, I don’t think that would have happened. And I don’t feel good about that.”

Today, Bankman-Fried said his focus is on working through the regulatory and legal processes and “trying to focus on what I can do going forward to be helpful.” In the future he said he hopes he will be able to say he “made it up to everyone who got hurt.”

He added, “At the end of the day, it’s not my call what happens. And the world will judge me as it will.”

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