Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is the subject of a market manipulation inquiry related to the collapse of the Terra ecosystem.
According to a report from the New York Times, federal prosecutors are investigating whether Bankman-Fried had something to do with steering the prices of LUNA and TerraUSD (UST), the so-called algorithmic stablecoin that lost its peg earlier this year and eventually triggered a market-wide crash.
The investigators have reportedly honed in on data suggesting that there was a huge build up of “sell” orders of the stablecoin before it crashed, traceable to FTX’s sister company, Alameda. The trading firm, according to anonymous sources cited by the Times, had bet against the token and hoped to profit from its collapse.
The inquiry is also examining whether FTX broke the law by transferring customer funds to Alameda Research, and if it failed to honor anti-money laundering laws requiring U.S. money transfer businesses to enforce know-your-customer rules and report illegal activity—something FTX was being investigated for several months before it declared bankruptcy on Nov. 11.
Bankman-Fried has given several media interviews over the last few weeks, stating in some appearances that he had little to no involvement with Alameda’s recent operations.
In an interview with The Block’s Frank Chaparro, Bankman-Fried said he was “unsure” if Alameda had special access to FTX.
“I think that it [Alameda] may have had something like a delayed liquidation account near the end,” said Bankman-Fried at the time.
Many in the crypto community believe that the FTX founder is trying to portray himself as having been incompetent in the management of the exchange’s affairs. Bankman-Fried has not acknowledged that he was aware of Alameda’s actions and has repeatedly stated that he has put together information from limited access to data over the last few weeks.