Where In the World is Sam Bankman-Fried
FTX, It’s been a week since the start of FTX’s death spiral. In that time, we’ve gone from a “temporary” halt on withdrawals that didn’t affect FTX US to a total collapse and a bankruptcy filing that took down 138 companies.
Sam Bankman-Fried, better known as SBF, has claimed that he is still in Bermuda, but rumors are circling that he has been trying to get to a country where he can hide without being extradited to the US or EU to await trial.
Let’s take a look at some of the rumors and see how likely they are and what would happen if they turned out to be true.
SBF’s private jet flew to Argentina
According to Flightradar24, SBF’s jet flew from the Bahamas to Argentina a few days ago:
Most tracked flight right now
According to tweets the founder and former CEO of
@FTX_Official is en route to Argentina after the FTX collapse earlier this week.
Some users claimed that Argentina would be a good place for SBF to hide from a potential extradition request, but this wouldn’t work for two main reasons.
- Taking your own highly-tracked private jet to a country means that everyone in the world will know you’ve gone there.
- Argentina has had an extradition treaty with the US since 1997 and extradited someone last month, so you can guarantee they’d do it again for someone with no ties to the country.
SBF told Reuters that he did not fly to Argentina and is, in fact, still in the Bahamas.
FTX bigwigs looking to escape to Dubai
Sources have said that while SBF may still be in the Bahamas, 4 of the top current and former members (SBF, Gary Wang, Nishad Singh, and Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison) are finding ways to escape to Dubai.
In some ways, this would be a better choice than Argentina. While the US and the UAE have committed to working more closely to cooperate on fighting crime, the US is currently not able to extradite anybody from the UAE.
It doesn’t help that SBF and the other two former FTX executives are “under the supervision” of the Bahamas authorities. However, Caroline Ellison is allegedly in Hong Kong, with direct flights to Dubai and several other exciting hideouts.
The problem with this approach is that SBF’s private jet is now in Argentina, and any commercial flights would likely include a layover in the US, the country he is trying to hide from.
On top of this, FTX was approved to operate in Dubai back in July this year, and the UAE will not take kindly to him losing a bunch of their citizens’ money in only a few months. Maybe leaving the Bahamas isn’t such a good idea after all?
Locked In a Tower?
It was claimed on November 11 that SBF was detained on the runway at Nassau airport and has since been moved to “a locked space” in Albany Tower. It’s reported that his father, Joseph Bankman, is also with him.
There doesn’t seem to be much evidence backing this up, and it seems an extension of the claims that SBF is simply “under supervision” by Bahamas authorities. The definition of “supervision” is interesting, as one assumes that, at minimum, he would be prevented from leaving the island nation.
Still, photos have emerged of the distinctive SBF with his unkempt hair and in his trendy t-shirt, shorts, and New Balance shoes buying some snacks from a local store.
Will SBF Go to Jail?
Many on crypto Twitter are pointing out the similarities between SBF and Bernie Madoff, who ran a $64 billion Ponzi scheme from 1960 all the way to 2008 when he was arrested and charged with fraud.
SBF managed to build a company valued at $32 billion in a much shorter time scale, and it blew up on him in a much more spectacular fashion. Attorneys Irving Picard and David Sheehan were able to recover much of the money from beneficiaries such as Madoff and Jeffry Picower, and it is possible that something similar could happen in this case.
It is concerning that SBF is still apparently walking around a free man despite having admitted in detail on Twitter that he gambled billions of dollars of customer deposits.
While both the Manhattan District Attorney and the California DFPI have initiated probes, many, including Twitter owner Elon Musk, are claiming that SBF’s recent $40 million donation to the US Democrat party (who currently hold power in the US) means that SBF will not be charged. At least in the US.
Given that they may be deemed a benefactor if SBF’s actions are deemed to be fraud, it will be interesting to see whether the US ruling Democrat party will be asked to return the 40 million dollars that ultimately came out of the pockets of ordinary people like you and me.
What Are Your Options?
One of the main principles in a case like this is to demonstrate the harm caused (such as having funds on the exchange that are no longer accessible).
So if you have funds stuck on FTX, you should get in touch with your local authorities to ensure they can begin proceedings at their end. These can take a long time (MtGox customers are still waiting to get paid out eight years later), but there may be other options in the meantime.
Our experts are experienced in cases like these and will be more than happy to help with any questions you may have on this matter.