Featured Article

FTX’s new CEO, John Ray, details crypto exchange’s downfall in US House testimony

Ray: ‘I don’t trust a single piece of paper in this organization’

Comment

FTX logo broken and on fire
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning focused on FTX’s collapse, mere hours after the crypto exchange’s former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, was arrested in the Bahamas.

Bankman-Fried was originally scheduled to testify at the hearing, an appearance that was scuttled after he was taken into custody by Bahamian authorities in light of charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Department of Justice’s Southern District of New York.

John J. Ray III, FTX’s CEO of four weeks, sat as the only witness for the hearing as Bankman-Fried reportedly made an appearance in a Bahamian court for his arraignment.

The four-hour hearing covered a lot of ground and left many questions unanswered, but several parts stood out from Ray’s testimony. Below, we’ve collected points that matter. Given that we presume you couldn’t catch the entire session live, crib off of our notes:

  • There aren’t yet exact numbers detailing the extent to which funds were misused, but it’s in “excess of $7 billion.”
  • There were 7.6 million accounts on FTX and 2.7 million accounts based in the U.S., but it is unclear how many lost money.
  • Over $1 billion in crypto assets have been recovered and secured. The new FTX leadership group has also secured “cash” in its bank accounts. But it will take weeks, if not months, to secure all the assets, he added.
  • Ray confirmed customer funds were deposited directly into Alameda Research, as opposed to FTX accounts.
  • The operations of FTX group were not segregated from sister company Alameda; they operated as one company. As a result, there’s no distinction, virtually, between the operations of the companies and who controlled those operations.
  • When discussing Bankman-Fried receiving a $1 billion loan from Alameda, Ray said, “The loans that were given to Mr. Bankman-Fried were not just one loan, there were numerous loans. … There’s no description of the purpose of what the loan was. In one instance he signed as both the issuer of the loan as well as the recipient of the loan. We have no information at this time for what the purpose or use of those funds were. That’s part of our investigation.”
  • The use of FTX capital at Alameda was not incidental or accidental. “The operation of Alameda really depended on the use of customer funds. That’s the major breakdown here. Funds from FTX.com, which was the exchange for non-U.S. citizens, those funds were used at Alameda to make investments and other disbursements,” Ray said.
  • Alameda was effectively a customer of FTX.com and Bankman-Fried owned 90% of Alameda, Ray said.
  • When asked if FTX had significant risk management systems, Ray said, “There were virtually no internal controls and no separateness whatsoever.” Later in the hearing, Ray disclosed that there was no board overseeing FTX, aside from Bankman-Fried. FTX, once valued at $32 billion, didn’t have an accounting or human resources department. It did, however, have a legal department and employees with compliance titles — but no department for them to call home.
  • When asked to compare FTX to Enron, Ray said, “[Enron’s actions] were highly orchestrated financial machinations by highly sophisticated people to keep transactions off balance sheets. [FTX] … isn’t sophisticated whatsoever; this is just plain old embezzlement.”
  • “We’re dealing with literally sort of a paperless bankruptcy in terms of how they created this company; it makes it very difficult to trace and track assets particularly in the crypto world. It’s unprecedented in the lack of documentation.”
  • FTX used consumer-level software platforms like QuickBooks and Slack to manage invoices and expenses, which Ray characterized as uncommon for a multibillion-dollar company.
  • There were no audits of Alameda or its venture silo. But there were audits of FTX US and FTX.com, Ray said. The audits were done by Prager Metis and Armanino. “I can’t speak to the integrity or quality of those audits,” Ray said. “I don’t trust a single piece of paper in this organization.”
  • Bankman-Fried currently has no role in FTX and will have no role going forward. Ray said he has had no conversations with him.
  • It’s possible that FTX-related crypto wallets exist that they don’t know about, but investigators should learn more in the coming weeks as they trace the movements of crypto assets they have visibility into.

This hearing is the beginning of a long process.

“We know there will be ongoing conversations in the new year,” U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina, said at the end of the event. “The title of this hearing was part one. Part two will be next year.”

This story may be updated with new information.

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

1 day ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo