Collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX remains the subject of "an active and ongoing investigation" by Bahamian authorities, Bahamian Attorney General Ryan Pinder said on Sunday, as he praised the Bahamas' regulatory regime and swiftness with which it responded to the crisis.
FTX, which had been among the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, is headquartered in the Bahamas. The firm, whose liquidity crunch forced the company to declare bankruptcy on Nov. 11, is the subject of investigations by Bahamian and U.S. authorities. In mid-November, the Royal Bahamas Police said that government investigators in the Bahamas were looking at whether any "criminal misconduct occurred."
"We are in the early stages of an active and ongoing investigation," Pinder said on Sunday, according to prepared remarks for the speech. "It is a very complex investigation." He said it involved both civil and criminal authorities.
Pinder said that the Bahamas Securities Commission, Financial Intelligence Unit and the police's Financial Crimes Unit would "continue to investigate the facts and circumstances regarding FTX's insolvency crisis, and any potential violations of Bahamian law."
Pinder also defended the Bahamas' regulatory regime and said that its Securities Commission had moved quickly "because of the strength of the legislative framework."
Bahamas securities regulators had revoked FTX Digital's license and began involuntary liquidation proceedings the day before the U.S. bankruptcy case kicked off.
"Any attempt to lay the entirety of this debacle at the feet of the Bahamas, because FTX is headquartered here, would be a gross oversimplification of reality," Pinder said, adding that the Bahamas Securities Commission had moved with "remarkable" speed in response.
Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, founded FTX in 2019 and rode cryptocurrency boom to a net worth that Forbes pegged a year ago at $26.5 billion. Bankman-Fried resigned as FTX's chief executive officer the same day as the firm's bankruptcy filing.
The liquidity crunch came after Bankman-Fried secretly moved $10 billion of FTX customer funds to his proprietary trading firm, Alameda Research, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, led by veteran securities fraud prosecutor Damian Williams, in mid-November began investigating how FTX handled customer funds, a source with knowledge of the probe told Reuters. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission also opened probes.
FTX's demise comes after a string of meltdowns that have taken down other key players including Voyager Digital and Celsius Network and led some global investors to question the viability of the cryptocurrency sector.
(Reporting by Jasper Ward, Mrinmay Dey, David Randall, Jaiveer Shekhawat; Editing by Megan Davies and Daniel Wallis)