Two luxury planes that allegedly belonged to Sam Bankman-Fried, the former head of collapsed crypto exchange FTX, could be part of forfeiture proceedings as prosecutors seek to recover assets, according to a court filing from the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.
No one associated with FTX ever used the planes, which were in the process of being upgraded when FTX filed for bankruptcy in November 2022, according to a Decrypt report.
The aircraft in question are a Bombardier Global 5000 BD-700-1A11, a long-range jet that can transport up to 16 passengers, and an Embraer Legacy EMB-135BJ, a twin-engine corporate jet for up to 14 passengers.
Ownership of the planes, both physical and legal, has been remarkably complicated for massive aircraft. The Bombardier Global has been in government custody since February, while FTX debtors claimed ownership of both planes in August, Decrypt reported.
However, charter flight company Island Air Capital (IAC), based in the Bahamas where FTX was also located, claims it purchased the jets for $15.9 million and $12.5 million in March and August 2022, respectively, using FTX-provided financing. The question is whether IAC purchased the planes with funds obtained through FTX’s alleged fraudulent activities or if there’s legitimate ownership claims backed by legitimate corporate loans.
The DOJ started its criminal trial of Bankman-Fried on Wednesday and alleged in opening statements that the founder had lied his way to “wealth, power and influence.” The defense countered that Bankman-Fried was a “math nerd” who had acted in good faith and took reasonable actions during his time as CEO.