For months, John Jay Ray III, the corporate restructuring expert tasked with overseeing the bankruptcy of crypto exchange FTX, has been attacking the company’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried, accusing him of “old-fashioned embezzlement.”
Now Mr. Ray has a new target: Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents.
On Monday, FTX filed a lawsuit in federal court in Delaware accusing Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, longtime law professors at Stanford University, of “using their access and influence within the FTX company to enrich themselves.” The lawsuit seeks to recover millions of dollars the couple received from their son.
In the complaint, FTX’s lawyers said that Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried received a $10 million cash gift from Mr. Bankman-Fried and a home in the Bahamas, where FTX was based, for $16.4 million. received dollars that were purchased from the stock exchange. The lawsuit also alleges that Mr. Bankman helped cover up complaints from a former lawyer about his son’s company and that Ms. Fried trained Mr. Bankman-Fried and another FTX executive to avoid disclosure requirements for political donations .
The couple “either knew that their son Bankman-Fried and other FTX insiders were orchestrating a huge fraudulent scheme — or ignored glowing warning signs that were uncovered,” the lawsuit says.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
FTX filed for bankruptcy in November after a rush on deposits exposed an $8 billion hole in the exchange’s accounts. The next month, federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused Mr. Bankman-Fried of orchestrating a scheme to use customer deposits to finance billions of dollars in venture capital investments, political donations and luxury real estate purchases. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to be arraigned on October 3
FTX’s collapse led to closer scrutiny of Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried. Mr. Bankman, a distinguished tax professor, was an FTX employee who was heavily involved in the company’s philanthropic efforts, while Ms. Fried, also a distinguished academic, led a political donor network that her son helped fund.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Bankman helped arrange hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to top employees and was listed in an internal document as a member of the company’s management team. In communications cited in the lawsuit, Mr. Bankman complained that he was only receiving a salary of $200,000 a year, as opposed to the $1 million he had expected.
“Gosh, Sam, I don’t know what to say here,” he wrote in an email cited in the lawsuit. “That’s the first one [I] I heard about the 200,000 annual salary!”
Soon afterward, Mr. Bankman-Fried sent him the $10 million gift, the lawsuit says. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Bankman also flew on private jets and paid FTX $1,200 per night for hotel stays, and he made a cameo appearance alongside comedian Larry David in an FTX commercial during the 2022 Super Bowl.
Mr. Bankman pushed for his role in the commercial, the lawsuit said, quoting him as saying he wasn’t obsessed with celebrities and that he “didn’t really care about meeting Tom Brady, for example.” But Larry David…”
The lawsuit also alleges that Mr. Bankman helped cover up allegations from a former FTX attorney that some of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s companies were involved in money laundering and price manipulation. Instead of investigating these allegations, Mr. Bankman suggested in the lawsuit that the lawyer be investigated.
Ms. Fried never worked for FTX but was also closely involved in her son’s work, the lawsuit says. According to the complaint, she advised him on political donations and encouraged him and other executives to make “straw donations” that concealed that the money came from FTX, a strategy designed to “avoid federal campaign finance disclosure rules (if not even hurt). ”
In an August 2022 email to Mr. Bankman-Fried, cited in the lawsuit, she mentioned another donor who “would only donate in an undisclosed form” and said she “would urge you to do the same.” to do – or to replace someone else’s name.”
Federal prosecutors have accused Mr. Bankman-Fried of organizing a straw donation scheme, and two of his top advisers, Nishad Singh and Ryan Salame, have pleaded guilty to participating in it.
Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried were frequent visitors to the Bahamas and lived in a 30,000-square-foot property with ocean views. Since FTX’s collapse, the couple claimed they “never believed” they owned the house. But according to the lawsuit, an affiliate of FTX paid for the house; Mr. Bankman sent an email to a top FTX executive in May 2022, inviting him and others to “celebrate the home you helped us purchase/move into,” the complaint says. He and Ms. Fried were granted permanent residency in the Bahamas last October, the lawsuit says, with FTX covering $30,000 in fees associated with the applications.
Mr. Bankman also asked FTX employees whether the company that provided landscaping services for the home could bill FTX directly, the lawsuit says. And a month after the purchase was completed, the complaint says, Ms. Fried directed FTX employees to place online orders for a sofa, at least eight vases and a Persian hand-knotted rug valued at more than $2,500.
Source : www.nytimes.com