The The shocking implosion of the FTX crypto exchange has become a shame for who is among the global elite, with some issuing mea culpas – and others apparently scrambling to hide their ties to his disgraced, 30-year-old founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Web archive site showed that the World Economic Forum – the glitzy shindig in Davos, Switzerland, is a must-attend for billionaires and world leaders every year – has previously listed FTX as one of its “partners”, touting the Bahamas-based firm as a “cryptocurrency. exchange built by traders, for traders.
Bankman-Fried was also a speaker at Davos last May alongside luminaries such as Google’s chief financial officer Ruth Porat and Bill Winters, CEO of London-based financial giant Standard Chartered. However, the WEF has since scrubbed all mention of FTX from its website in the days after the crypto exchange filed for bankruptcy.
“FTX is a partner of the World Economic Forum. Due to the events of last week, the partnership has been suspended and they have been removed from the Partners section of our website,” a spokesman for the Geneva-based organization led by Klaus Schwab told The Post on Monday.
According to one WEF insider, Bankman-Fried likely landed on the group’s site because he donated cash to the group, in addition to his upcoming speaking gig.
“The World Economic Forum survives on donations from outside organizations and companies that are usually aligned with their mission and politics,” the source told The Post.
The WEF is not the only group with egg on its face from its cheerleading for FTX and Bankman-Fried, who $16 billion fortune evaporated in a matter of days – a stunning collapse that has elicited comparison to Lehman Brothers and Enron. Bankman-Goreng is under federal investigation.
Photos circulated online over the weekend showing former President Bill Clinton sitting next to Bankman-Fried on stage – along with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair – at an event in the Bahamas this past April.
The Post has sought comment from Clinton’s office.
Although big financial firms such as Sequoia Capital, SoftBank and BlackRock have disclosed FTX’s losses in public filings, insiders say that wealthier people are buying privately, usually plowing money into FTX through family offices.
“This is like the Madoff situation … almost everyone in technology and Hollywood is investing in this,” an investor close to FTX told The Post. “Now nobody wants to admit it.”
An insider told The Post that Jan Koum — the Ukrainian billionaire who founded WhatsApp and sold it to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014 — bought the shares through his family office. Reps for Koum did not respond to requests for comment.
Twitter users promoted a video over the weekend showing CNBC investment maven Jim Cramer calling Bankman-Fried the “JP Morgan of his generation.” The Post has reached out to Cramer and CNBC seeking comment.
Kevin O’Leary – the “Shark Tank” investor who also admitted that he had bathed in FTX bets – posted a culpa on his Twitter account over the weekend, telling his 951,000 followers: “As an investor, you never win. it’s true every time .You will make some mistakes.Sometimes big ones like FTX.
Tom Brady and now ex-wife Gisele Bündchen are the best known victims of FTX. After starring in several TV commercials promoting the crypto exchange, they acquired an equity stake in FTX that now seems to be worthless. Golden State Warriors basketball star Steph Curry was also given a stake in FTX. Curry, Brady and Bündchen were not immediately available for comment.
Elsewhere, FTX Bankman-Fried earlier this year partnered with former White House adviser Anthony Scaramucci’s SALT conference to launch a star-studded cryptocurrency summit in the Bahamas.
“We are excited to welcome FTX as SALT’s primary global partner and launch Crypto Bahamas. Sam and the FTX team are building the most important company in crypto and the broader financial industry,” Scaramucci said at the time.
The Salt Crypto Bahamas Conference included the now-infamous scene in which Bankman-Fried shared the stage with supermodel Bündchen to talk about sustainability practices in the crypto sector.
As Bankman-Fried’s estimated profit ballooned as high as $26 billion during the pandemic era cryptocurrency boom, the founder of FTX used the windfall to cultivate a comfortable relationship in the media.
Bankman-Fried was an early financial booster for Semafor, the blue-chip news startup co-founded by New York Times veteran Ben Smith and former Bloomberg CEO Justin B. Smith.
Ex-billionaire poured money into Semafor in the Series A fundraising round which also drew contributions from media types such as The Atlantic chief emeritus David G. Bradley and The Information founder Jessica Lessin.
The semaphore tells the connection to Bankman-Fried in his reporting on FTX’s sudden bankruptcy filing last week. The outlet also mentioned its dealings with the founder of FTX in a story that said Bankman-Fried wanted to start a competitor to publish the Substack platform, created with “his favorite authors.”
“We closed our seed round in May and received all investments in full in USD. While we are monitoring the developing situation carefully, we do not expect any impact on our financial or business outlook,” Semafor spokesperson Meera Pattni. said in a statement.
The Post has reached out to Semafor for further comment.
Bankman-Fried Family Foundation also gave a grant of $5 million to ProPublica earlier this year to “support investigations into ongoing questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, biosecurity and public health preparedness.”
In June, Puck News reported that Bankman-Fried hired staff with experience in journalism to advise her on media relations strategies for her pet projects, including future pandemic preparations. His aides allegedly took meetings with “several newsrooms” about nonprofit and for-profit partners — all funded by Bankman-Fried.
Bankman-Fried is open about his ambitions to become a political king – once stating that he plans to spend $1 billion in the 2024 presidential election cycle. He later walked back that brazen claim, describing it as a “stupid quote”.
The disgraced executive may have dialed back the amount of his planned political spending, but he remains a major booster of left-wing candidates and causes in the 2022 midterm elections. He is the Democratic Party’s second-largest donor, trailing only George Soros.
Bankman-Fried spent about $36 million in political donations during the run — most of which went to Democratic causes, according to to the Financial Times.
Some $27 million went to Protect Our Future, a super PAC that supports Democratic candidates committed to pandemic prevention. His spending included a disastrous $11 million investment in the campaign of Carrick Flynn, the first House candidate in Oregon to fail to make it through the primary.
Bankman-Fried’s sudden downfall has come as a shock to some in the Democratic Party who are hoping for an influx of donor cash in the coming months.
“Sam didn’t keep his commitments,” a Democratic lobbyist told the outlet.
As for the WEF, its relationship with Bankman-Fried extends to her family as well. His aunt, Linda P. Fried, an epidemiologist who serves as dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, is listed on WEF’s website.
In 2012, Linda P. Fried contributed to a WEF-funded study in an aging global population. The Post has sought comment from her.