Less than a year ago it was relatively easy to find among the American financial and political elite admirers of Sam Bankman-Fried. To the young founder and CEO of FTXwhich until recently was one of the largest cryptocurrency trading markets, was even described as “the JP Morgan of the 21st century”, someone with the drive and brains to reinvent banking in the digital age.
Today, comparisons, when they are made, are rather with Dick Fullthe banker who precipitated the fall of the Lehman Brothers firm in the 2008 financial crisis, or even with Bernie Madoff, the author of the largest pyramid scheme in history. And is not for less. This week the trial begins that will determine whether SBF, as it is known by its initials, is guilty of defrauding FTX clients of nearly $9 billion.
FTX was born in 2019 with the intention of transferring the image of solidity and efficiency of traditional financial entities to the world of cryptocurrencies. For two years, SBF spared no expense to achieve this, hiring great athletes and actors for millions of dollars to try to convince the general public that investments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were safe and easy to do.
The company was valued at more than 35 billion dollarsbut a sudden market crash in the spring of 2022 started a chain of events that ended up leading to the bankruptcy of the entity.
In the midst of the fall, as the cryptocurrency market deteriorated due to various scandals – such as the collapse of the Terra/Luna currencies or the fall of the investment fund Three Arrows Capital- FTX took advantage of the opportunity to acquire many small competitors at very low prices, solidifying its image.