The FTX collapse has reportedly fueled a major international legal dispute between the United States and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The Bahamas government reportedly worked with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to issue a new cryptocurrency controlled by local officials.
Following the FTX collapse in November, Bahamas government officials reportedly asked Bankman-Fried to mint new digital assets worth “hundreds of millions of dollars,” lawyers for FTX said in a court filing, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 12. The authorities also reportedly asked the former FTX CEO to transfer the new tokens to the control of island officials.
The report also suggests that Bahamas officials tried to help Bankman-Fried regain access to key computer systems of the now-defunct FTX trading platform. According to American lawyers, Bahamas officials were “responsible for directing unauthorized access” to FTX systems in order to take over control of digital assets under the supervision of a U.S. court.
John J. Ray III, FTX’s new CEO and restructuring expert, reportedly watched as someone minted new coins while he and his team attempted to get control of FTX’s computer systems, the report notes.
The lawyers’ claims further escalate the conflict between FTX restructuring executives in the United States and officials in the Bahamas. According to U.S. lawyers, liquidators in the Bahamas asked a U.S. judge for access to FTX data controlled by their American counterparts, including trading data, email records and other information.
“It is a request for live, dynamic access that would be provided immediately to the government of the Bahamas and to Messrs,” the lawyers reportedly wrote in a court filing on Tuesday.
In order to support their accusations of alleged cooperation between Bahamas authorities and SBF, the American lawyers mentioned that SBF opened withdrawals for all Bahamian clients. On Nov. 10, just a day before FTX filed for bankruptcy, the firm said that it started to facilitate withdrawals of Bahamian funds, citing compliance with local regulations. The event resulted in millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency leaving the exchange.
While the new report brings more allegations of close ties between FTX and government officials in the Bahamas, other reports also suggest that SBF had connections with the U.S. government as well. According to some reports, SBF spent about $40 million on supporting Democrats during the 2021–2022 political cycle. Tesla CEO Elon Musk speculated that the amount that SBF actually donated to Democratic candidates was over $1 billion.
The news comes shortly after SBF expressed interest in forming a new project in order to repay up to $50 billion to FTX’s creditors. The FTX founder was subsequently arrested in the Bahamas on Dec. 12.