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FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator

Authority says it is holding digital assets until they can be returned to creditors and former customers
The Bahamas securities regulator has said it has seized assets worth $3.5bn (£2.9bn) from the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX and plans to return them to creditors and former customers.

The Securities Commission of the Bahamas said it had transferred all digital assets under the custody or control of FTX Digital Markets, a Bahamas subsidiary of the FTX operation, to its own digital wallets for “safekeeping”.

The transfer took place on 12 November, the day after the wider FTX business, comprised of dozens of affiliates and the trading arm Alameda Research, filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.

The commission said in a statement: “The digital assets transferred on 12 November 2022 to digital wallets under the exclusive control [of] the commission are being held by the commission on a temporary basis, until such time as the Bahamas supreme court directs the commission to deliver them to the customers and creditors who own them.” It added that the assets could also be released to customers and creditors via the company’s liquidators.

The commission said the assets were valued at more than $3.5bn, “based on market pricing at the time of transfer”, without giving further details about the types of digital assets it had seized.

FTX, once one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, collapsed in November as customers rushed to withdraw billions of dollars from the business amid fears about the true state of its balance sheet.

The company’s founder and former chief executive, Sam Bankman-Fried, who was based in the Bahamas, was subsequently charged in the US with fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the US and violate campaign finance laws. He was extradited to the US last week and has been freed on $250m bail.

Bankman-Fried, 30, is expected to enter a plea to those charges at a federal court in New York on 3 January.

Caroline Ellison, the former chief executive of FTX’s sister company, the hedge fund Alameda, agreed to plead guilty to seven offences including wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
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