NASAU, THE BAHAMAS — Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of the embattled cryptocurrency giant FTX and trading firm Alameda Research, told ABC News they were ultimately responsible for the collapse of both companies, but denied they knew “that there was improper use of customer funds.”
“I really want more responsibility to know the details of what’s going on,” he said. “I should have been on top of this, and I feel really bad and regret that I wasn’t,” he said. “A lot of people are hurting. And that’s me.”
Bankman-Fried spoke to George Stephanopoulos and ABC News for the first network interview since two companies in the cryptocurrency empire filed for bankruptcy this month. They address the rumors that have swirled since the collapse and discuss the uncertain path forward. The interview took place in the Bahamas island of Nassau where FTX is headquartered.
Watch George Stephanopoulos’ full interview with Sam Bankman-Fried on “Good Morning America” on Thursday
FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in November after a rival cryptocurrency exchange announced it was backing out of plans to acquire it. The filing follows reports that FTX used deposits to pay off Alameda Research’s creditors, a claim reported by former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison during a call in early November. Bankman-Fried said he didn’t know if that was true but said Alameda had a large position in FTX that was “overcollateralized a year ago.” He also partially blamed the market collapse that “threatened the position” as well as mismanagement.
Ellison did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
“I failed to have people managing those risks, managing those positions, managing those accounts. I failed to have proper oversight” that led to the FTX crash, Bankman-Fried said.
In the interview, Bankman-Fried also denied that he witnessed any illegal drug use by FTX employees, and said that the report that he and Ellison were in a polyamorous relationship was false and that the romantic relationship with Ellison was only six months. “I lived with a bunch of monogamous couples when I was here, some of whom got married during the course of their time here. I don’t know any polyamorous relationships in FTX.”
Bankman-Fried, 30, said he now only has one ATM card and has $100,000 in his bank account, a drastic reversal from the estimated $20 billion net worth that brought him into the spotlight. He ultimately blamed FTX’s downfall on his struggles with risk management.
“There is something deeply wrong there, which I didn’t even try. Like, I didn’t spend any time or effort trying to manage the risk in FTX and that’s obviously a mistake,” he said. “If I had spent an hour a day thinking about risk management in FTX, I don’t think that would have happened. And I don’t feel good about it.”
Today, Bankman-Fried said her focus is on working through the regulatory and legal process and “trying to focus on what I can do to be helpful.” In the future, he hopes to be able to say that he “saved all the pain.”
He added, “At the end of the day, it’s not my call what happens. And the world will judge me as it will.”