Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried said on Monday he will testify remotely rather than in person before Congress because he is “pretty overbooked” and has security concerns about “paparazzi” should he travel to Washington, DC.
Lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee are preparing to grill Bankman-Fried on Tuesday over the rapid collapse of the digital currency exchange that was once worth tens of billions of dollars.
During Monday’s interview with the “Unusual Whales” platform which was conducted on Twitter Spaces, Bankman-Fried confirmed he would testify – but via a Zoom link from his luxury residence in the Bahamas.
Bankman-Fried went on a whirlwind media tour to defend his actions after FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11. But when asked why he wouldn’t show up for the House hearing, the crypto huckster said: ”
When asked on Twitter Spaces if his refusal to appear in person was due to fear of being arrested, Bankman-Fried replied that he was deterred by “paparazzi.”
“I don’t think I will be arrested,” Bankman-Fried told the more than 19,000 Twitter users who tuned in to the interview. The Post has sought comment from Bankman-Fried.
During the Twitter Spaces interview, Bankman-Fried admitted that he played video games, which caused the clicking noises heard in the background. He said he would appear alone before the House panel on Tuesday.
FTX CEO John J. Ray III, the insolvency expert and attorney who was named chief executive after the crypto exchange declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will also testify on Tuesday.
Bankman-Fried also said during the “Unusual Whales” interview that he was “open and willing” to possibly appear before the powerful Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday.
In a tweet on Friday, he said he would be limited in what he could say to congressional leaders and that he “will not be as useful” as he would like to be.
The tweet came in response to several tweets earlier this month from House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-California) who requested that Bankman-Fried attend the hearings. on the collapse of FTX.
Waters said in a series of tweets to Bankman-Fried that, based on multiple media interviews since FTX’s collapse, it was “clear to us that the information you have so far is sufficient to testify “.
Unlike Bankman-Fried’s interviews with reporters, his testimony in Congress will put him at risk of perjury.
Federal prosecutors are reportedly assembling a potential fraud indictment against the disgraced crypto mogul – and speculation is growing that his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison could become a saddle pigeon in the case. Ellison was in charge of FTX’s cryptocurrency trading sister company, Alameda Research.
Justice Department officials for the Southern District of New York are reportedly looking into the alleged transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States to the Bahamas just as its cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in under Chapter 11, according to Bloomberg News.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are also investigating whether Bankman-Fried manipulated the crypto markets by orchestrating deals that led to the collapse of the TerraUSD cryptocurrency earlier this year. according to previous reports.
Bankman-Fried denied personal responsibility for FTX’s collapse and said he “never tried to commit fraud.” He also claimed he had “unknowingly mixed funds” between FTX and Alameda Research.
Meanwhile, Ellison reportedly spotted having coffee at a Soho restaurant in Manhattan last week – and hired law firm partner Stephanie Avakian, Wilmer Hale, a former head of the enforcement division at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg reported separately.
The Post has sought comment from Wilmer Hale.
While Bankman-Fried has given several interviews and posted frequently on social media in recent weeks, Ellison has remained silent, leading some observers to believe she was seeking to cooperate with authorities.
With post wires