FTX owes its 50 largest creditors about $3.1bn, the failed cryptocurrency exchange said in a bankruptcy court filing on 19 November. The filing didn’t name the creditors, but it listed them as customers. Two creditors are each owed more than $200m.
FTX’s lawyers have said in all there could be more than one million creditors across FTX’s various entities.
Also on 19 November, a statement from John J Ray, the company’s new CEO, struck a slightly more optimistic tone about the possibility of recovering assets to repay those creditors. On 17 November, the veteran bankruptcy executive said he’d never seen anything as bad as FTX in 40 years in the restructuring business.
“We are pleased to learn that many regulated or licensed subsidiaries of FTX, within and outside of the United States, have solvent balance sheets, responsible management and valuable franchises,” said Ray, who was hired to oversee the company during its bankruptcy process, on 19 November.
FTX’s new management hired an investment bank to help sell viable parts of its business and discovered there were more than 200 accounts containing positive cash balances. A separate filing in federal bankruptcy court identified 216 bank accounts with positive balances, offering the possibility that there was some value left in FTX’s wreckage for creditors to recover. It verified account balances worth about $564m, according to the filing. Much of that money, however, is either held in outside entities that directly filed for bankruptcy protection or is considered restricted cash, meaning others may lay claim to it.
The cryptocurrency exchange imploded this month after its chaotic finances spilled into public view. Prosecutors are now investigating its collapse. The company’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO on 11 November, when FTX filed for bankruptcy.
FTX said it would look in coming weeks to preserve or sell what businesses it can as part of strategic review of the company’s global assets to “maximise recoverable value for stakeholders”, the statement said. The company hired investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners LP to spearhead the sale of different business units and subsidiaries.
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FTX said it doesn’t yet know the total amount of cash that the crypto exchange or its related entities hold because of “historical cash management failures and the deficiency of documentation controls”, one of the Saturday filings to bankruptcy court said. As of 16 November, the filing said, the company had been able to verify the balances in only some of the bank accounts held at 36 banks worldwide.
FTX said the company was in the process of locating additional bank accounts by “reviewing the available books and records, speaking with bank personnel and interviews with employees”.
The filing said that entities including FTX EU and West Realm Shires Services — which includes the business known as FTX US — have some of the largest verified account balances so far. To date, FTX’s new management team has verified $49.3m of total cash for FTX EU and $48.1m for West Realm Shires Services.
The efforts by FTX’s new management to track down assets has been further complicated in recent days by a dispute with securities regulators in the Bahamas for control of FTX’s insolvency proceedings.
Last week, FTX said in court papers, citing purported texts by Bankman-Fried, that it appears regulators in the Bahamas instructed him to transfer assets from the exchange to a digital platform controlled by local government officials. The Securities Commission of the Bahamas, the lead local authority investigating FTX’s collapse, said last week that it directed the transfer of all digital assets of FTX’s Bahamas subsidiary, FTX Digital Markets, “to a digital wallet controlled by the Commission, for safekeeping”.
The movement of hundreds of millions of dollars from FTX accounts in the early hours after the exchange filed for bankruptcy sparked fears of a hack. It remains unclear if and how much of the funds moved went to Bahamian custody or were taken by an unauthorised actor.
Crypto analytics firm Elliptic said some of the funds taken without authorisation are ultimately being converted into bitcoin. Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, said in an email that the bitcoins may have been in the process of being cashed out or laundered further.
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FTX’s new management team on 20 November warned other cryptocurrency exchanges to be vigilant for stolen funds from its platform that might cross their paths. Exchanges are often the place where hackers attempt to swap cryptocurrencies for government-issued cash.
“Exchanges should take all measures to secure these funds to be returned to the bankruptcy estate,” FTX said in a tweet.
In other court filings over the weekend, FTX also sought approval from the court for a new cash-management system to manage FTX’s remaining money and to allow payment of critical vendors and vendors at foreign subsidiaries. FTX said that without the authority to pay critical vendors, FTX could face “irreparable security risks, potential data loss or other disruptions and ultimately loss of value to their estates”.
Caitlin Ostroff and Vicky Ge Huang contributed to this article.
Write to Caitlin McCabe at email@example.com
This article was published by The Wall Street Journal, part of Dow Jones