Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX allegedly built secret code in its software enabling its sister hedge fund Alameda Research to receive billions in customer funds.
FTX documents reviewed by Reuters showed how FTX tweaked its code to prevent Alameda from having to sell off its assets if it lost significant amounts of borrowed money.
NEW: We reviewed FTX’s code base which contains the secret change that allowed Bankman-Fried to move client money to Alameda.
“Be extra careful not to liquidate the PMM,” his chief engineer noted, referring to Alameda as FTX’s “Primary Market Maker” https://t.co/SeAFbz4Kvx
— Angus Berwick (@AABerwick) December 13, 2022
The change was allegedly made by then-Director of Engineering Nishad Singh, who commented in the code “be extra careful not to liquidate,” Reuters found. His comment indicated to FTX programmers not to sell Alameda’s positions, Reuters reported.
Singh was fired in the wake of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was filed Nov. 11 by CEO John Ray. He has not commented publicly on the collapse of FTX.
Software changes in August 2020 by FTX Alameda was labeled a “primary market maker,” giving it the ability to engage as a dealer ready to buy and sell assets, Reuter specified.
The tweaks in FTX’s code enabled Alameda to borrow an unlimited amount of funds without providing collateral to back them up, according to Reuters.
Then-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried directed the changes in Alameda’s software, according to charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday. (RELATED: FTX CEO Says He’s Investigating Sam Bankman-Fried’s Parents)
“From the inception of FTX, Bankman-Fried diverted FTX customer funds to Alameda, and he continued to do so until FTX’s collapse in November 2022,” the SEC alleged in its complaint against Bankman-Fried.
“Bankman-Fried diverted FTX customer funds to Alameda in essentially two ways: (1) by directing FTX customers to deposit fiat currency (e.g., U.S. Dollars) into bank accounts controlled by Alameda; and (2) by enabling Alameda to draw down from a virtually limitless “line of credit” at FTX, which was funded by FTX customer assets,” the SEC filing added.
Customer funds were made into Bankman-Fried’s “piggy bank” and he used them “to buy luxury condominiums, support political campaigns, and make private investments, among other uses. None of this was disclosed to FTX equity investors or to the platform’s trading customers,” the SEC added.
Bankman-Fried’s wealth peaked at $26.5 billion and stood at $17.2 billion in Sept. 2022, Forbes Magazine estimated. He believes he has $100,000 left in his bank account, which he does not have access to.
FTX was founded in 2019 and investors valued the exchange and its U.S. operation at $40 billion based on early 2022 fundraising, CNBC reported.