Bahamas seize $3.5 billion FTX assets on custody concerns

By Suvashree Ghosh
Bloomberg
Dec 29, 2022, 11:42 PM – Updated on Dec 30, 2022, 1:29 AM

Bahamian authorities took control of $3.5 billion worth of digital assets at FTX Digital Markets shortly after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection based on information provided by founder Sam Bankman-Fried, according to a statement on Dec. 29.

The Bahamian Securities Commission seized the digital assets of FTX, valued at more than $3.5 billion as of Nov. 12, citing a risk of “imminent dissipation” of the assets due to concerns flagged by Bankman-Fried that included cyberattacks against the exchange, the regulator said in the statement. 

Within hours after FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11, about $372 million worth of tokens were stolen from the exchange, according to bankruptcy filings. FTX saw nearly $700 million of token outflows within a 24 hour span, according to blockchain research firm Nansen.

The Bahamian Securities Commission said the digital assets are under its “exclusive control” on a temporary basis until the country’s Supreme Court allows the regulator to return them to the customers and creditors who own them or to the joint liquidators. That could provide relief to some FTX customers after its current chief executive John J. Ray III, who is overseeing the restructuring, warned that the international customers could lose more funds than US peers. 

Bahamian authorities are scrutinizing the web of relationships between bankrupt FTX.com, which is registered locally as FTX Digital Markets Ltd., and its trading firm, Alameda Research.

Read the latest on FTX:
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The US Department of Justice has launched a criminal probe into the stolen assets, separate from its fraud case against Bankman-Fried, Bloomberg News reported.

The Bahamian Supreme Court suggested the Commission should lawfully assist in sharing information related to digital assets of FTX with US debtors and their representatives, the regulator added.

(Adds details in the fourth paragraph.)

–With assistance from Ben Bain.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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