FTX’s new CEO berated the crypto exchange’s security in court testimony.
John J. Ray III said an FTX exec could have downloaded $500m of crypto and walked away.
Ray also described his first 48 hours in charge of FTX as “pure hell.”
FTX’s weak security meant its cofounders — who have both been charged with fraud — could easily have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of crypto, the bankrupt firm’s new CEO said in court testimony.
John J. Ray III, who was drafted in to oversee FTX after its collapse and previously handled Enron’s liquidation, made the comments at the Delaware bankruptcy court Monday.
“Literally one of the founders could come into this environment, download half a billion dollars’ worth of wallets onto a thumb drive, and walk off with them,” he said in a recording of the hearing reviewed by Insider. “And there’d be no accounting for that whatsoever.”
Ray said FTX crypto wallets have now been moved into “cold storage,” adding that the crypto firm previously had “hot wallets in a system where multiple people had access to passwords.”
“Where we are today is pretty satisfying,” he added.
Bankman-Fried was arrested in December and has pleaded not guilty to charges including fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. When contacted by Insider, a spokesperson for Bankman-Fried declined to comment on Ray’s remarks.
John Ray, who took over as CEO of crypto exchange FTX, has described some of the chaotic experiences at the firm following the company declaring bankruptcy.
In testimony for FTX’s case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Feb. 6, Ray said he and other professionals had “carefully” been conducting an investigation into FTX’s activities, due to the company having no physical office. The FTX CEO seemed to be pushing back against a motion to assign an independent examiner to the bankruptcy case, claiming that “inadvertent errors” could result in “hundreds of millions of dollars of value” being destroyed.
According to Ray, when he took control of FTX in November 2022, there was “not a single list of anything” related to bank accounts, income, insurance or personnel, causing a “massive scramble for information.” The FTX CEO said the same day he helped file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, and there were multiple attempts to steal crypto, resulting in security experts and liquidators moving quickly to secure funds.
“Your normal first-day petition is chaotic as sometimes can be — this was something that I have never experienced,” said Ray. “Those hacks went on virtually all night long […] It was really 48 hours of what I can only describe as pure hell.”
The FTX CEO claimed he had had no connection with former executives at the exchange, including Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried or his parents prior to taking control of the company. According to Ray, anyone “that was in a control position” under Bankman-Fried no longer had any authority to direct FTX company actions.
Ray’s testimony came amid a motion from the Office of the U.S. Trustee arguing the court should appoint an independent examiner who
A U.S. bankruptcy judge is considering at a Monday court hearing in Delaware whether to greenlight a court-supervised investigation into the collapse of FTX, a course of action that the crypto exchange opposes as redundant and wasteful.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s bankruptcy watchdog has urged U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Dorsey, who is overseeing FTX’s Chapter 11, to appoint an independent examiner to investigate allegations of “fraud, dishonesty, incompetence, misconduct, and mismanagement” that are “too important to be left to an internal investigation.”
Juliet Sarkessian, an attorney for the U.S. Trustee, said such an investigation is mandatory under federal law in all large bankruptcy cases where DOJ requests one.
FTX has said an examiner would merely duplicate work already being done by FTX, its creditors, and law enforcement agencies.
FTX attorney James Bromley told Dorsey that an investigation is not appropriate, and allowing new investigators to access its systems could jeopardize the cybersecurity of FTX’s ongoing investigation.
FTX’s new CEO, John Ray, said that FTX has already answered 156 requests for information from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, producing 70,000 documents, as well as 151 requests from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and hundreds of requests from other U.S. regulators and prosecutors, members of Congress and foreign governments.
FTX has acknowledged that its past conduct raised questions about fraud and mismanagement, but has said another layer of review would only add cost and delay to the company’s effort to repay customers in bankruptcy.
Ray, who worked with court-appointed examiners while leading Enron Corp and Residential Capital through bankruptcy, told the court that examiners in those two cases cost $90 million and $100 million, respectively, but were not useful.
The judge overseeing the FTX bankruptcy proceeding still hasn’t decided whether he will appoint an independent examiner after a 4-hour hearing that included testimony from FTX CEO John Ray III.
Judge John Doresey, who’s overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, said Monday he’s asked the attorneys representing FTX, the unsecured creditor committee, U.S. Trustee and the Joint Public Liquidators of the Bahamas to discuss “a consensual resolution.” The next FTX court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, but there’s no sign yet the judge will make a ruling then.
Ray was appointed when crypto exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy and founder Sam Bankman-Fried stepped down on November 11. The company, once an influential giant in the industry, is accused of having commingled client funds with those of its sister company, Alameda Research—a crypto trading firm also founded by Bankman-Fried.
Ray said during his testimony on Monday that he and his team have been fielding daily requests from state and federal investigators. Ray also testified that he did not find examiner’s reports helpful in two prior bankruptcies he’s overseen, Enron and Residential Capital, adding that “the reports were somewhat ambivalent in the conclusionary sense.”
The FTX legal team has been arguing that the cost of an independent examiner would be significant and duplicate a lot of the work that Ray’s team has been doing since November.
Between the day that he was appointed and the end of last year, Ray said that he has done $690,000 worth of work for the company.
But the U.S. Trustee assigned to the case, Juliet Sarkessian, argued that 18 states have voiced their support for an examiner to be appointed. The latest has been Texas, which filed its joinder last week along with 15 other states.
James Bromley, an FTX attorney, argued that “to allow anyone else