On Wednesday, disgraced FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman Fried sat down with New York Times journalist Andrew Sorkin at the Dealbook Summit to discuss the spectacular collapse of his crypto exchange.
In his first public interview since the company's implosion, SBF defended himself, claiming that he "didn't ever try to commit fraud."
"The generous view is that you are a young man who made a series of terrible, terrible, very bad decisions," Sorkin began. "The less generous view is that you have committed a massive fraud, that this is a Ponzi scheme, a manipulation of the system."
"What is this, and what did happen?" he asked.
"At the end of the day I was CEO of FTX," SBF replied, "and that means whatever happened, whyever it happened, I had a duty … to all of our stakeholders, to our customers, our funders, our employees, our investors, and to the regulators of the world to do right by them, to make sure the right things happened to the company, and clearly I didn't do a good job of that."
SBF then stated that he "didn't ever try to commit fraud on anyone," adding that he was "shocked" by what happened.
Sorkin then quoted SBF as having tweeted, then deleted, in early November that, "FTX has enough client holdings; we don't invest client assets, even treasuries. We've been processing all withdrawals and will continue to be." He then asked the former billionaire if he had been lying.
"Things were changing fast," SBF replied, "and when you look at November 6 I was feeling nervous, but I felt like things were probably going to end up ok; we still had assets way larger than liabilities."
He noted that despite "increasing withdrawal demand," FTX was still able to process the requests, however following a "transition day," things began to go downhill fast. In an attempt to communicate with customers, he sent the aforementioned tweet, then removed it when he realized it was not at all a "reasonable representation."
Sorkin also read to SBF one of the many letters he received from former FTX customers demanding an explanation for the loss of their life savings. In response, SBF said simply, "I'm deeply sorry about what happened."
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