Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried said Monday he will testify remotely rather than in person before Congress because he’s “quite overbooked” and has security concerns about “paparazzi” if he were to travel to Washington, DC.
Lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee are preparing to grill Bankman-Fried on Tuesday over the swift collapse of the digital currency exchange that was once worth tens of billions of dollars.
During Monday’s interview with the “Unusual Whales” platform that was conducted on Twitter Spaces, Bankman-Fried confirmed he will testify — but through a Zoom link from his luxury residence in the Bahamas.
Bankman-Fried has been on a whirlwind media tour to defend his actions after FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11. But when asked why he would not fly in for the House hearing, the crypto huckster said: “I’m quite overbooked.”
When pressed on Twitter Spaces about whether his refusal to appear in person was due to a fear of being arrested, Bankman-Fried responded that he was deterred by the “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 he was playing video games, which were causing the clicking sounds heard in the background. He said he will appear on his own before the House panel on Tuesday.
FTX CEO John J. Ray III, the insolvency expert and lawyer who was installed as chief executive after the crypto exchange declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will also testify Tuesday.
Bankman-Fried also said during the “Unusual Whales” interview that he was “open and willing” to possibly appearing on Wednesday before the powerful Senate Banking Committee.
In a tweet Friday, he said he will be limited in what he can say to congressional leaders and that he “won’t be as helpful” as he’d like to be.
The tweet came in response to several tweets earlier this month from House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who had requested that Bankman-Fried attend the hearings over the collapse of FTX.
Waters said in a series of tweets to Bankman-Fried that based on multiple media interviews since FTX collapsed, it was “clear to us that the information you have thus far is sufficient for testimony.”
Unlike Bankman-Fried’s interviews with reporters, his testimony to 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 stool pigeon in the case. Ellison was in charge of FTX’s sister cryptocurrency trading firm Alameda Research.
Justice Department officials in the Southern District of New York are reportedly scrutinizing the alleged transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from the US to the Bahamas right around the time that his FTX cryptocurrency exchange filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to Bloomberg News.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also are probing whether Bankman-Fried manipulated crypto markets by orchestrating trades that led to the collapse of the TerraUSD cryptocurrency earlier this year, according to previous reports.
Bankman-Fried has denied personal responsibility for FTX’s collapse and said he “didn’t ever try to commit fraud.” He also claimed he had “unknowingly commingled funds” between FTX and Alameda Research.
Meanwhile, Ellison reportedly was spotted grabbing coffee at a Soho eatery in Manhattan last week — and has hired Stephanie Avakian, a partner at white-shoe law firm Wilmer Hale who is the former enforcement division chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg reported separately.
The Post has sought comment from Wilmer Hale.
While Bankman-Fried has granted several interviews and frequently posted to social media in recent weeks, Ellison has stayed silent — leading some observers to believe she is seeking to cooperate with authorities.
With Post wires
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