Flashback: Bill Clinton hung with Bankman-Fried at $3K Bahamas shindig, called for ‘do no harm’ regulations

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Months before FTX founder and crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried lost his $15.6 billion fortune and company, he was chatting with Bill Clinton at a swanky cryptocurrency conference in the Bahamas.

Clinton was a paid speaker at the April 2022 Crypto Bahamas event hosted by the now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, where Democratic mega-donor Bankman-Fried moderated a panel featuring former President and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Clinton’s comments were unofficial, but a recording was leaked of him advocating a “do no harm” approach to regulating cryptocurrency, according to Trust Nodes.

Clinton also said there was a “temptation to abuse digital currencies,” but praised the emerging technology as “obviously serious” in his remarks, Politico reported in April.

“You want to get it right on the regulatory side,” he reportedly said, referring to his administration’s efforts to deregulate financial markets in the 1990s.

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Former President Bill Clinton speaks at Temple Emanu-El in New York City on November 10, 2022. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Sam Bankman-Fried sits for Bloomberg interview

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, during an interview on an episode of Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein in New York, August 17, 2022. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

April’s conference was a pricey, exclusive party for the who’s who of major crypto investors, celebrities, and world leaders. Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom were in attendance, as were NFL GOAT Tom Brady and then-wife Giselle Bundchen, while DJ Steve Aoki and former One Direction singer Liam Payne entertained conference attendees, who paid more than $3,000 for their tickets.

FTX hosted the event in conjunction with the SALT thought leadership forum, which was founded by Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director for former President Donald Trump.

It was a celebration of the enormous potential for wealth that makes cryptocurrency so attractive. But now, seven months later, the inherent risks of the loosely regulated market are becoming apparent. FTX’s incredible collapse from the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange to bankruptcy in the space of a week has left investors dumbfounded, customers fleeing, and lawmakers calling for new regulations on the crypto industry.

“I screwed up and should have done better,” Bankman-Fried tweeted on Thursday, grossly underestimating how his mismanagement left FTX with an $8 billion hole in its budget.

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Sam Bankman Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, speaks at the annual membership meeting of the Institute of International Finance in Washington, DC, October 13, 2022. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

After Bankman-Fried stepped down in disgrace, his successor John Ray III — the lawyer who previously oversaw the $23 billion bankruptcy of energy company Enron — accused the former CEO of allowing “a complete failure of corporate controls.”

“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of reliable financial information as here,” Ray said in a file with the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. “From compromised system integrity and deficient regulatory oversight abroad to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, inexperienced and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.”

FTX lawyers said on Thursday that Bankman-Fried’s “unconventional leadership style”, “his incessant and disruptive tweeting” and “the almost complete lack of reliable company data” have complicated efforts to restructure the company. In lawsuits, they accused the embattled crypto mogul of attempting to move assets out of the United States and into the Bahamas, where they would be under the control of the Bahamian government, in an apparent attempt to evade US regulators.

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FTX logo

In this photo illustration, the stock trading chart of FTX Token (FTT) can be seen on a smartphone screen. (Photo by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Sipa USA) No use Germany. (Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / Sipa USA / Reuters Photos)

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Bankman-Fried, who has donated about $38 million to Democrats and left-wing causes over the past two years, has been lobbying for rules that would have been beneficial to FTX.

“I’m optimistic that in the next year or so we’ll see some really substantial steps forward in global regulation and US regulation for cryptocurrencies. You know, it’s been a pretty uphill battle back and forth, I think, for a while . And I think [the] the industry is as much responsible for that as anyone else in terms of the relationships that have developed between, you know, the industry and regulatory authorities,” Bankman-Fried told FOX Business Network ten months before his demise.

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“But I think there is light at the end of the tunnel there. And I think there are some clear policy proposals that can resolve for what regulators want, while also allowing cryptocurrencies to really grow a lot as an asset class that moves liquidity and volume to country,” he added.

US lawmakers have called the FTX crisis a “debacle” and the House of Representatives will hold hearings in December to examine the collapse of FTX and “the broader implications for the digital asset ecosystem”.

Megan Henney of FOX Business contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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