Alongside splashing the cash on multi-million-dollar sports marketing deals such as the 19-year, US$135 million deal to sponsor the NBA team Miami Heat, it appears that Sam Bankman-Fried engaged in a bit of charitable philanthropy.
The curly-headed fraudster entered a ‘not-guilty plea’ on all eight counts of fraud and money laundering during an in-person appearance at a Manhattan court for his arraignment last week.
While SBF’s four-week trial will not commence until October 2nd this year, back at FTX HQ, exhaustive efforts are ongoing by the exchange’s newly-appointed CEO John Ray to identify and secure the firm’s remaining assets.
To date, the American attorney and bankruptcy specialist has secured US$1 billion in assets, described as “coins of various nature.”
SBF the Philanthropist
Only a few months ago, Bankman-Fried was glorified by the tech community as a down-to-earth, plant-loving entrepreneur averse to the principles of capitalism in favour of democratic, Robin-Hood styled generosity.
SBF practised and advocated a philosophic movement called effective altruism, a concept which embraces pragmatism and evidence-based understanding when attempting to solve global problems.
His core investment thesis remained high-risk towards the realm of impact investing. ‘Better is bigger’ he claimed, in his pursuit of a wide-scale positive impact over financial fortunes.
In February 2021, he established the FTX Foundation, a charitable initiative which pledged to invest 1% of all net profits to good causes.
Additionally, a sub-fund called Future Fund was set-up to provide US$100 million of grants and investment throughout 2022, with a principal expectation of reaching US$1 billion under the mission statement to “improve humanity’s long-term prospects.”
As per July 2022, the Future Fund had donated US$132 million to a plethora of 262 charities from biosecurity and pandemic preparedness to AI safety and university education.
The highest donations during 2022 were Longview Philanthropy at US$15 million, Centre for Effective Altruism at US$13.94 million, and HelixNano US$10 million.
The list of other educational grants includes US$1.5 million to both Cornell University and the University of California, US$500,000 to Brown University and US$388,080 to Ohio State University, among others.
On November 10th, following the explosion revelations of FTX’s financial operations, the Future Fund team resigned with immediate effect.
Citing concerns around legitimacy and integrity of FTX, the team stated that “we are devastated to say that it looks likely that there are many committed grants that the Future Fund will be unable to honor”, unequivocally declaring that “we condemn that behavior in the strongest possible terms.”
FTX recouping funds
On December 19th, FTX Debtors, operated by Mr. Ray revealed that they “have been approached by a number of recipients of contributions” who “have requested directions for the return of such funds.”
The announcement stated that if “payments are not returned voluntarily, the FTX Debtors intend to commence actions before the Bankruptcy Court to require the return of such payments, with interest accruing from the date any action is commenced.”
Even if charitable donations have been spent or distributed elsewhere, the recipients are still required to repay the funds back to FTX.