Alameda Research, the sister firm of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, loaned $1.6 billion to members of its executive team.

According to paperwork filed with the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Alameda made $4.1bn in loans to related parties including $1bn to then FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, $543 million to FTX director of engineering Nishad Singh and $55m to FTX digital markets head Ryan Salame. 

There was also a $2.3bn loan between FTX legal subsidiaries Euclid Way Ltd and Paper Bird Inc.

“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,” said John J. Ray III, who took over as FTX CEO when it filed for bankruptcy.

Ray, who has 40 years of experience, cleaned up the aftermath of the infamous bankruptcy of energy, commodities and services company Enron in 2001.

He added that FTX had “compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals”.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Dick Durbin have sent a letter to both Bankman-Fried and Ray demanding information about the Bahamas-based exchange’s collapse.

They wrote that the disintegration of the $32bn company may “justify our long-standing concerns that the crypto industry is built to favour scammers… and designed to reward insiders and to defraud mom-and-pop investors”.

They added that the case “appears to be an appalling case of greed and deception”. There have been reports that Bankman-Fried and other executives built a ‘backdoor’ into FTX’s accounting system so they could alter financial records and move money around in secret.

Warren and Durbin’s letter also demands answers and internal communications about the hack which saw hundreds of millions of dollars drained from FTX-controlled wallets as it went bankrupt.

Meanwhile venture capitalist Alex Pack, now the managing partner of New York-based Hack VC, told CNBC that meetings with Bankman-Fried in 2018 – when his then-company Dragonfly Capital was considering investing in Alameda – raised “red flags”. 

“I was captivated by him for the first month until he showed us everything… he was incredibly smart and charismatic,” he said. “[We realised later that] his risk-taking was catastrophic. We looked at it and saw red flags – too much risk.”

Alameda’s balance sheet showed “an uncharacteristic massive loss of more than $10 million, very quickly,” said Pack.

“We could never figure out: Was it fraud, was it massive risk-taking, was it a bunch of honest mistakes?”

Alleging that Bankman-Fried hid the existence of FTX, which he was quietly building in the background, Pack said: “We asked him ‘what’s going on here?’ Pretty nonchalantly, he said, ‘I can’t remember if I told you I had this idea for an exchange. For that reason, I’ve been spending most of my time on it so we have been neglecting the core business.’

“There was a lot he would or wouldn’t share. There was a clear pattern of hidden massive risk. He never really showed Alameda’s books to any future investor – that’s where all the bad stuff was happening.”

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Cryptocurrency shorts

Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of blockchain giant Ripple Labs, tweeted: “I firmly believe that crypto will be stronger because of this if we keep focusing on transparency and trust. Ripple has and will continue to lead in this regard.”

TRM Labs has launched Beacon Network, described as the first public-private communication network for Web3 incident response. It creates a link between law enforcement agencies and crypto services providers including exchange platforms, decentralised finance protocols, gaming ecosystems and NFT marketplaces in the aftermath of critical incidents like crypto hacks.

Former Meta executives Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi have raised $8m for Virtualness, a platform set to launch early next year which enables creators and brands to design, mint and showcase digital collectibles. The round was led by Blockchange Ventures and featured Polygon Ventures, F7 Ventures, Micron Ventures, Oceans Ventures, Neythri Futures Fund, Carolyn Everson, Randi Zuckerberg, Nusier Yassin (Nas Daily), Nikki Farb and Stacy Brown-Philpot.

Web3 gaming protocol Heroic Story, a community-owned worldbuilding platform powered by smart contracts and NFTs, has raised $6m funding. The round was led by Upfront Ventures and included Multicoin Capital and Polygon Technology. 

Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador, says the country will purchase one bitcoin every day. It currently holds 2,381 BTC, valued at over $39m.

Manchester United to gift ‘club history’ NFTs to fans

Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the 21,700 coins is at $837 billion at the time of writing (7am UK), a 0.9% increase in the last 24 hours.

For round-ups of recent cryptocurrency news developments, click here.

For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.