Coin Metric’s Head of R&D Lucas Nuzzi thinks Alameda’s liquidity crunch dates back to the second quarter, which saw the demise of several leading crypto firms, including Singaporean hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.
“I found evidence that FTX might have provided a massive bailout for Alameda in Q2 which now came back to haunt them,” tweeted Nuzzi on Tuesday. His suspicions stemmed from a series of unusual transactions that took place over 40 days ago, when 177 million FTT tokens worth $4 billion became active on-chain.
Nuzzi also found that $8.6 billion worth of FTT moved on Sept. 28, marking the largest daily movement in the token’s history.
After scanning through all transfers made that day, he noticed a strange transaction that interacted with a contract from the FTT ICO.
“This 2019 contract *automatically* released 173 Million FTT from the token’s ICO,” said Nuzzi, sharing a link to Etherscan that documents the transfer.
The Coin Metrics security researcher discovered that the transaction recipient was none other than Alameda Research, which immediately transferred this entire balance of FTT worth $4.19 billion to FTT’s contract creator.
“In other words, Alameda auto-vested $4.19 billion dollars worth of FTT just to send it immediately back to FTX,” said Nuzzi.
Nuzzi theorized that FTX used the money to bail out Alameda. In his view, Alameda “blew up in Q2 with 3AC” and the only reason it came out unscathed was the 172 million FTT tokens it used as “collateral” to secure funding, guaranteed to be vested four months later.
“Remember, the FTT ICO contract vests automatically. Had FTX let Alameda implode in May, their collapse would have ensured the subsequent liquidation of all FTT tokens vested in September. It would have been terrible for FTX, so they had to find a way to avoid this scenario,” said Nuzzi.
On the day of these transfers, Sam Bankman-Fried tweeted that FTX was “rotating a few FTX wallets” as part of periodic transfers.
Nuzzi emphasized that this theory was just speculation, but believes that it was this Alameda bailout that put the real dent in FTX’s balance sheet.