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FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried admits masquerading as 'woke Westerner,' says ESG has been 'perverted beyond recognition,' reveals biggest regret

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, revealed that the woke appearance that he and his company displayed was all a "dumb game." In a new interview, Bankman-Fried confessed that the fake window dressing of altruism was mostly a front and that the performance was done "so everyone likes us."

The collapse of FTX

FTX CEO Bankman-Fried saw his company collapse on Election Day. The 30-year-old also saw his net worth of nearly $16 billion wiped out in days.

Until last week, FTX was the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange and was valued at $32 billion in February. However, the digital coin exchange filed for bankruptcy last Friday after a failed takeover by rival Binance.

In addition, between $1 billion and $2 billion in customer funds reportedly vanished from the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

Investigations into FTX have been launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

Sam Bankman-Fried was a Democrat megadonor

Bankman-Fried was a Democrat megadonor. He reportedly contributed more than $5 million to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential campaign. He was the second-biggest individual donor to Democrats in the 2021-2022 election cycle – donating $37 million. In May, Bankman-Fried said he planned to donate "north of $100 million" to Democrats in the 2024 presidential election, but pledged to have a "soft ceiling" of $1 billion in donations to Democrats if former President Donald Trump ran again.

SBF became the biggest donor to the Democratic Protect Our Future PAC that only launched in May. Gabe Bankman-Fried, SBF's brother, who handles the billionaire's political operations, declared that the PAC was formed to "stop the next pandemic."

In February, the Bankman-Fried brothers gave a $5 million grant to ProPublica to financially "support investigations into ongoing questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, biosecurity and public health preparedness."

SBF ties to the WEF, Clinton Initiative, and New York Times

Until this week, FTX was promoted on the World Economic Forum's website.

In May, SBF was one of the featured speakers at World Economic Forum 2022 in Davos, Switzerland. Topics at the event included sustainability, diversity, equity, inclusion, cryptocurrency, and Web 3.0.

In September, Bankman-Fried was a featured speaker at the annual meeting for the Clinton Global Initiative. The event covered subjects such as vaccine development, the implications of climate change, and transforming philanthropy for "equity, justice, and impact."

SBF is slated to be a featured speaker at a summit hosted by the New York Times on Nov. 30, along with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Tickets for the event cost $2,499.

Bankman-Fried claimed he was an 'effective altruist,' and the media fawned over him

Bankman-Fried, a self-proclaimed “effective altruist," was hyped up by the media.

CNBC investment personality Jim Cramer championed SBF as "the JP Morgan of his generation."

"Shark Tank" star investor Kevin O'Leary previously said of FTX, "If there's ever a place I could be, that I'm not going to get in trouble, it's gonna be at FTX."

CNBC reporter Kate Rooney lauded Bankman-Fried as the "Michael Jordan of crypto."

Bloomberg previously said of the FTX founder, "Sam Bankman-Fried drives a Corolla, sleeps on a beanbag, and has a Robin Hood-like philosophy."

SBF admitted masquerading as 'woke Westerner'

In a new interview, Bankman-Fried confessed that he used his virtuous stances as a front to win the game.

Vox reporter Kelsey Piper – who interviewed Bankman-Fried through direct messages on Twitter – said to the former FTX CEO, "You were really good at talking about ethics for someone who kind of saw it all as a game with winners and losers."

SBF responded, "Ya, hehe. I had to be, it's what reputations are made of, to some extent. I feel bad for those who get f***ed by it. By this dumb game we woke westerners play where we say all the right shiboleths [sic] so everyone likes us."

When asked if his "ethics stuff" was "mostly a front," SBF replied, "Yeah. I mean that's not all of it but it's a lot."

In the summer, SBF said that companies should not engage in unethical practices. However, when pressed by the Vox reporter, he admitted, "Man all the dumb s**t I said."

Speaking about investors focusing on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), he declared, "ESG has been perverted beyond recognition."

SBF exclaimed, "F*** regulators. They make everything worse. They don't protect customers at all."

Bankman-Fried said it was "never the intention" to squander away investors' money, but "sometimes life creeps up on you."

"I f**ed up big multiple times," he added.

SBF said his biggest regret was FTX filing for bankruptcy. He believes that "everything would be 70% fixed right now" if he hadn't declared bankruptcy. He calls the bankruptcy his "biggest single f***up."

Bankman-Fried said if he could do it all over again, he would have "more careful accounting" and separated his hedge fund Alameda Research from FTX.

The new CEO of FTX said he has never seen such 'complete failure'

John Jay Ray III – a bankruptcy expert with more than 40 years of restructuring experience who liquidated Enron – was appointed the CEO of FTX.

In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Ray said, "Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here."

"In the Bahamas, I understand that corporate funds of the FTX group were used to purchase homes and other personal items for employees and advisors," Ray wrote in a 30-page document. "I understand that there does not appear to be documentation for certain of these transactions as loans, and that certain real estate was recorded in the personal name of these employees and advisors on the records of the Bahamas."

Bankman-Fried is reportedly selling his Bahamian penthouse dubbed "the Orchid" in the exclusive private community of Albany, located in Nassau, for nearly $40 million.

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