The S.B.F. Legal Meteor

Former FTX C.E.O. San Bankman-Fried, before the cryptocurrency exchange he co-founded collapsed in spectacular fashion. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

The following is a lightly edited excerpt from our December 1st conference call for Inner Circle subscribers, Puck’s highest tier of membership, featuring Eriq Gardner and Teddy Schleifer in discussion with executive editor Ben Landy. We hold these calls for Inner Circle members every other week, among other benefits; to join our next live off-the-record session, upgrade your membership here.

Ben Landy: Let’s start with one of the central questions about this FTX disaster: What happens to all of the money that Sam Bankman-Fried distributed? Even if it didn’t come directly out of customer accounts, in practical terms it seems to have had the same effect—customer deposits were used against bets at Sam’s associated hedge fund, Alameda Research. What happens to those funds? Can they be recovered in bankruptcy court? 

Teddy Schleifer: A lot of money has gone out the door, right? I mean, political contributions have been made, super PACs have spent money on ads, grantees have used the money for salaries or for office spaces… So I think we should acknowledge that it’s not as if there’s $500 million or a billion dollars just sitting in a bank account somewhere, ready for creditors to show up with a wheelbarrow. A lot of grantees are expecting the possibility of clawbacks, meaning the money may not be theirs. And frankly, it depends on how savvy the litigants are, and whether or not they can persuasively make the claim that this money was fraudulently made and fraudulently distributed. That’s a long way of saying we’ll see, but everyone expects there to be at least attempts to claw back the money. Eriq, I’m curious how you think of the legal questions here?