New FTX CEO will testify about ‘utter failure of corporate controls’

John Ray, chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, arrives at bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.

Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

FTX CEO John J. Ray III plans to tell the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the cryptocurrency exchange under Sam Bankman-Fried had “unacceptable management practices,” according to the executive’s prepared remarks.

Though Ray only mentions Bankman-Fried by name twice in his seven page opening remarks, it’s clear that many of his initial criticisms about the company are directed toward the organization’s former leadership.

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“…never in my career have I seen such an utter failure of corporate controls at every level of an organization, from the lack of financial statements to a complete failure of any internal controls or governance whatsoever,” Ray says in his statement, echoing similar statements he made in the company’s bankruptcy filing.

Ray, who led the restructuring of Enron, replaced Bankman-Fried last month when the company suddenly filed for bankruptcy, following a run on assets and reports that it had transferred billions of billions of dollars of FTX customer funds to the Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund , AlamedaResearch. The committee made Ray’s opening testimony public on Monday, a day before the hearing that will focus on FTX’s collapse.

Bankman-Fried said in a Monday interview on Twitter Spaces that he plans to testify at the upcoming House hearing via video from his location in the Bahamas.

Ray lists what he found to be “unacceptable management practices” at FTX, including the “coming of assets.” He also said the company lacked the “complete documentation for transactions involving nearly 500 investments made with FTX Group funds and assets.”

Ray explains in his remarks that FTX went on a “spending binge” from late 2021 through 2022 when approximately “$5 billion was spent buying a myriad of businesses and investments, many of which may be worth only a fraction of what was paid for them. “

He noted that “loans and other payments were made to insiders in excess of $1 billion.”

Other issues at FTX, according to Ray’s opening remarks:

  • The use of computer infrastructure that gave individuals in senior management access to systems that stored customer assets, without security controls to prevent them from redirecting those assets.
  • The storing of certain private keys to access hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto assets without effective security controls or encryption.
  • The ability of Alameda, the crypto hedge fund within the FTX Group, to borrow funds held at FTX.com to be used for its own trading or investments without any effective limits.
  • The absence of audited or reliable financial statements.
  • The lack of personnel in financial and risk management functions, which are typically present in any company close to the size of FTX Group.
  • The absence of independent governance throughout the FTX Group.

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