Advisers now overseeing the carcass of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Group are struggling to locate the company’s cash and crypto, citing poor internal controls and record keeping.
“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information,” John J. Ray III, the group’s new chief executive officer who formerly oversaw the liquidation of Enron Corp., said in a sworn declaration submitted in bankruptcy court.
“From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented,” he added.
Advisers have located “only a fraction” of the digital assets of the FTX Group that they hope recover during the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Ray said. They’ve so far secured about $740 million of cryptocurrency in offline cold wallets, a storage method designed to prevent hacks.
The company’s audited financial statements should not be trusted, Ray said. Advisers are working to rebuild balance sheets for FTX entities from the bottom up, he said.
FTX “did not maintain centralized control of its cash” and failed to keep an accurate list of bank accounts and account signatories, or pay sufficient attention to the creditworthiness of banking partners, according to Ray. Advisers don’t yet know how much cash FTX Group had when it filed for bankruptcy, but has found about $560 million attributable to various FTX entities so far.
Although restructuring advisers have been in control of FTX for less than a week, they’ve seen enough to depict the crypto company as a deeply flawed enterprise. Lasting records of decision making are hard to come by: Bankman-Fried often communicated through applications that auto-deleted in short order and asked employees to do the same, according to Ray.
Corporate funds of FTX Group were used to buy homes and other personal items for employees, Ray said. Some of the real estate was recorded the personal names of employees and FTX advisers, he wrote, and the company’s disbursement controls were not appropriate for a business.
“For example, employees of the FTX Group submitted payment requests through an on-line ‘chat’ platform where a disparate group of supervisors approved disbursements by responding with personalized emojis,” according to the statement.