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The surreal interview with Sam Bankman-Fried



Key points to remember

  • Bankman-Freid gave a lengthy live interview at last night’s New York Times Dealbook Summit.
  • Against apparent legal advice, he answered a wide range of questions about the whole recent debacle
  • It’s very hard to believe him when he says he wasn’t that knowledgeable when you would expect otherwise from someone who was CEO of FTRX and owned 80% of Alameda

Not many live televised events have blown me away.

The one that immediately comes to mind is Zinedine Zidane, one of the world’s greatest footballers on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup Final, literally headbutting an opposing defender on my TV screen sixteen years ago.

More recently, I remember watching the Prime Minister of my country (Ireland), Leo Varadkar, speaking live on our national broadcaster about the COVID pandemic, when he announced the first (and at the time, what we thought was also the last) containment.

It will probably be some time before I forget those historic moments. And I’m sure I’ll also remember the last thing I’ve seen for a while.

Why did Bankman-Fried give the interview?

Sam Bankman-Fried, disgraced CEO of the FTX exchange – who I’m really sick of talking about – gave an hour-long interview last night on the masthead of the New York Times Dealbook.

Why this interview took place, I’ll never know. Bankman-Fried called from the Bahamas, apparently against the advice of certain “people” – who one would assume might be in the legal profession.

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“I think I have a duty to speak out and explain what happened,” he said. “I don’t see what’s the point of sitting in a room and pretending the outside world doesn’t exist.”

“I don’t focus on that,” he replied when asked if he was concerned about potential criminal liability.

Like his disastrous DM conversation on Twitter, I simply don’t know why this interview took place. It’s hard to believe anything that comes out of Bankman-Fried’s mouth at this point. And regarding that Twitter conversation, Bankman-Fried explained it away by saying that the journalist was a “longtime friend” who had “stupidly forgotten” that he was a journalist. sorry?

Last night’s interviewer, Andrew Sorkin, asked him about some of the wild confessions in that DM exchange, which to me betrayed Bankman-Fried’s true character. Bankman-Fried softened his stance a bit, but accepted that he had been playing a “game,” as “we all have,” about his image.

There was a lot of “to the best of my knowledge”, “as far as I know” and “details are unclear, but”. Although he is CEO of FTX and owns 80% of Alameda, Bankman-Fried has repeatedly stated that he does not have full control over certain matters.

Call me cynical, but I refuse to believe that a company can make billion dollar loans (like Genesis, which is now also insolvent) without its 80% owners knowing about it.

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He also claimed, again bizarrely, that FTX US might even start allowing withdrawals quickly, and that they were fully solvent to his “knowledge.” Are we to believe that he was really that out of the loop?

What is the future for Bankman-Fried?

The big question is whether Bankman-Fried faces jail time for his actions. At this point, most believe he won’t. Considering he was speaking at a New York Times summit, albeit virtually, I don’t know what to think.

He was noticeably nervous throughout the interview. Nervous, twitchy smiles, eyes lowered to the floor. Questions about taking prescription drugs in the office made him a little nervous, while his comment “I’ve had a bad month” made the audience laugh.

The biggest problem, of course, is that we don’t know. yet not how he authorized the transfer of so many assets to Alameda. He has always tried to dodge some of the more pointed questions about the transfer of funds, and no one is clear anymore about what happened there, which is probably the key point in deciding whether he will face real punishment.

To most, it looks like a fraud, sending client assets to Alameda while smiling on magazine covers and speaking in front of Congress. And it is very It is hard to believe that Bankman-Fried did not see the importance of these transfers, nor the severity of the losses at Alameda.

“I wasn’t paying enough attention to the positions and position risk in the stock market and in Alameda in particular,” he stumbled. “I significantly underestimated the size and speed of the stock market decline,” he added.

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At this point, I’ve had enough of Bankman-Fried. What a total embarrassment to the entire industry. The industry has taken a hard hit, which is far from over. Let’s hope that someday it can get over it.

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