Sam Bankman-Fried Agrees to Testify Before House Committee
The answer as to whether the embattled FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried will appear before two congressional committees next week is being played out on Twitter.
In an early morning post on Twitter on Friday, Mr. Bankman-Fried said he would appear on Tuesday before the House Committee on Financial Services after days of being evasive on the matter. The Dec. 13 committee hearing will focus on the sudden collapse last month of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange that Mr. Bankman-Fried founded, amid allegations of the misappropriation of billions in customer money.
Mr. Bankman-Fried, 30, said in a post on Twitter that “there is a limit to what I will be able to say, and I won’t be as helpful as I’d like.”
Ever since FTX and companies associated with it filed for bankruptcy last month, Mr. Bankman-Fried has been holed up in his residential complex in the Bahamas, where FTX was based. He has granted numerous media interviews either in person in the Bahamas or via Zoom to talk about the collapse of the once popular cryptocurrency trading platform.
It is unclear if he will appear in person before the House committee.
Mr. Bankman-Fried did not address a separate request from the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to appear before senators the following day.
In a letter sent Wednesday, the Senate Banking Committee had given Mr. Bankman-Fried until 5 p.m. Thursday to respond to a request that he testify on Dec. 14, the day after the House hearing. The leaders of the Senate committee issued a statement Thursday evening that said Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lawyer had failed to comply with that deadline.
Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said in the letter to Mr. Bankman-Fried that if the cryptocurrency trader was unwilling to speak to the committee, he was prepared to issue a subpoena to compel his testimony.
A spokesman for Mr. Bankman-Fried and his lawyer Mark Cohen declined to comment beyond the Twitter post. Representatives for the Senate committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Over the past two weeks, Mr. Bankman-Fried has been on something of a media tour, giving multiple interviews to various news outlets and posting messages on Twitter. He has repeatedly said he never intended to defraud anyone — including FTX’s estimated one million customers.
Mr. Bankman-Fried has said he was not directly involved in trading decisions at Alameda Research, a hedge fund he co-founded and largely owned. Just before FTX’s bankruptcy filing, it was revealed that billions in customer money at the exchange was apparently transferred to Alameda.
With federal prosecutors and securities regulators investigating the collapse of FTX, the risks are far greater for Mr. Bankman-Fried in testifying before a congressional committee than in talking to the media. Statements that Mr. Bankman-Fried makes to a reporter do not carry the same legal weight as testimony made before Congress.
Mr. Bankman-Fried was active in politics, having donated about $40 million to federal campaigns and committees that primarily supported Democrats, according to Federal Election Commission records.