Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, joined ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday and was asked about possible jail time and on being considered another Bernie Madoff.
Host George Stephanopoulos asked Bankman-Fried if he was worried about facing jail time.
“There are lot of things that are worrying me right now and you know as best as possible I’m trying to focus on what I can do going forward to be helpful and, you know, let whatever, you know, regulatory and legal processes are happening play out as they will,” the former FTX CEO said.
Stephanopoulos also told Bankman-Fried that at lot of people look at him and “see Bernie Madoff.”
Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, sits down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t think that’s who I am at all, but I understand why they’re saying that. People lost money. And people lost a lot of money and I mean at the end of the day, look, there’s a question of what happened and why and who did what. What caused the meltdown and I think that is – reads very differently. When you look at the classic Bernie Madoff story, there was no real business there. The whole thing, as I understand it, I think, was just one big ponzi scheme, right? FTX, that was a real business,” he said.
Bankman-Fried also denied knowing that there was any “improper use of customer funds.”
Stephanopoulos asked how he would explain the failure and if it was “unethical.”
“Some part of it was just literal distraction. I really should have spent some time each day taking a step back and saying, what are the most important things here? Right? And how do I have oversight of those and make sure that I’m not losing track of those and, frankly, I did a pretty incomplete job at that. I spent a lot less time looking at assets and looking at balances and positions because that’s not where revenue came from and so I wasn’t seeing it as a core business driver. Obviously it was a core risk and that was a huge mistake not to think more about that,” he said.
Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, during an interview on an episode of Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein in New York, US, on Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022.
(Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The former FTX CEO also told Stephanopoulos that he “wasn’t even trying” to manage risk at FTX.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what to say, like what happened happened and if I had been – if I had been spending an hour a day thinking about risk management on FTX I don’t think that would have happened. I think I stopped working as hard for a bit. You know, honestly if I look back on myself, I think I got a little cocky, I mean more than a little bit and I think part of me like, you know, felt like we made it,” Bankman-Fried said.
The ABC host observed that it was a “stunning admission.”
“The whole job of the head of a firm like that is managing risk,” Stephanopoulos said after the interview.
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: CEO of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Bankman-Fried also gave cash to multiple liberal media organizations before the collapse of FTX.
He provided funding to The Intercept, Vox, ProPublica and former New York Times media columnist Ben Smith’s new outlet, Semafor.