Before FTX fell, Sam Bankman-Fried Claims he “Became a Little Cocky”

Before FTX fell, Sam Bankman-Fried Claims he “Became a Little Cocky”

The founder of the now-bankrupt FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, has slipped from the heights of crypto fame, but he is not leaving quietly. He has presented himself as a bumbling and contrite businessman in back-to-back interviews.

“I think I got a little cocky I mean, more than a little bit,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.

Whether FTX, his cryptocurrency exchange platform, stole consumer funds when it committed billions of dollars to his hedge fund, Alameda, is a crucial issue for Bankman-Fried.

Bankman-Fried, echoing comments he also made to The New York Times on Wednesday, denied knowing of any improper transfers of customer funds between the exchange and Alameda.

“I really deeply wish that I had taken like a lot more responsibility for understanding what the details were of what was going on there,” he told Stephanopoulos. “A lot of people got hurt, and that’s on me.”

Commentators have made analogies to Bernie Madoff, the banker convicted of operating a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that deceived hundreds of investors, after Bankman-practically Fried’s overnight transformation from crypto celebrity to pariah.

“I don’t think that’s who I am at all, but I understand why they’re saying that,” Bankman-Fried told Stephanopoulos. “When you look at the classic Bernie Madoff story, there was no real business there … FTX that was a real business.”

His ABC interview, recorded in The Bahamas last week, aired just hours after Bankman-Fried’s livestreamed interview with The New York Times Wednesday evening. In that interview, Bankman-Fried said he “didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone,” while admitting he made mistakes as chief executive.

Following the bankruptcy filing of FTX on November 11 along with dozens of linked businesses, Bankman-Fried announced his resignation as the CEO of the company. Customers from all over the world were left frantically trying to reclaim the billions of dollars in funds they had deposited on the platform almost overnight.

Bankman-Fried’s own multibillion-dollar personal wealth evaporated, and crypto firms with financial exposure to FTX began to buckle.

The collapse of FTX is under investigation by federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, according to a person familiar with the matter, and by authorities in The Bahamas, where the companies were based.

Several financial regulators have also been in contact with the firm’s new management, led by restructuring specialists tasked with shepherding FTX through bankruptcy.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyer didn’t respond to requests for comment.