Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX's new CEO trade attacks on asset recovery: 'He thinks everything is one big honey pot'

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John Ray, CEO of FTX Group, described a litany of amateurish business practices used to run the multibillion-dollar exchange. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Mario Duncanson / AFP


© Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Mario Duncanson / AFP
John Ray, CEO of FTX Group, described a litany of amateurish business practices used to run the multibillion-dollar exchange. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Mario Duncanson / AFP

  • FTX CEO John Ray III and Sam Bankman-Fried traded fresh barbs Thursday.
  • Ray told the Wall Street Journal that recent comments from the former CEO have been unhelpful. 
  • Bankman-Fried said it was a shocking comment from “someone pretending to care about customers.”

Sam Bankman-Fried is trading barbs with John Ray III, the new boss of FTX.

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In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Thursday, Ray said the founder’s recent comments have not been productive or helpful. 

“We don’t need to be dialoguing with him,” Ray told the Journal. “He hasn’t told us anything that I don’t already know.”

In a text message response, per the report, Bankman-Fried shot back: “This is a shocking and damning comment from someone pretending to care about customers.”

Since taking over in November, Ray has moved to overhaul FTX and recover lost assets to pay back customers and creditors. He’s slammed Bankman-Fried and former staffers for haphazard bookkeeping and a lack of management experience. 

Bankman-Fried has maintained that the US branch of FTX remains solvent and has the ability to make customers whole again. The company has denied this claim. 

“Investigation has confirmed shortfalls at both International and U.S. Exchanges,” according to a statement released by FTX on January 17.

According to Bankman-Fried, FTX US likely has “hundreds of millions of dollars in excess of customer balances.” He has said previously that filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy in November was a mistake, and has been vocal in criticizing Ray’s clean-up strategy. In a Substack newsletter last week, he shared his estimation of what his crypto empire’s books looked like over the last two years.

But Ray noted that Bankman-Fried’s calculations seem to include improperly diverted funds related to LedgerX, a crypto derivatives business FTX acquired in 2021. Ray said that means, in effect, Bankman-Fried’s balance sheet estimations imply covering losses using customers’ money. 

“This is the problem,” Ray said. “He thinks everything is one big honey pot.”

In response, Bankman-Fried had this to say via text message to the Journal: “Mr. Ray continues to make false statements based on nonexistent calculations. If Mr. Ray had bothered to think carefully about FTX US, he would likely have realized both that his interpretation is wholly inconsistent with bankruptcy law, and also that even if one were to subtract $250m from my balance sheet, FTX US would *still* have been solvent. Rather, Mr. Ray sees everything as one big honey pot—one he wants to keep.”

Meanwhile, Ray also said it’s possible that new leadership will reboot the exchange if it means they could recover more value for customers compared to a full liquidation of assets or selling the platform.

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