Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, is disputing a claim by the estate of FTX over $450 million in shares of financial trading app Robinhood.
The 56 million shares, held by Bankman-Fried and co-founder Gary Wang through a holding company called Emergent Fidelity Technologies, are the subject of a complex legal battle involving FTX, BlockFi, a bankrupt crypto lender, and the US Department of Justice.
In a filing to the Delaware bankruptcy court in December, FTX, which is now being managed by restructuring expert John Ray, argued that the shares should be frozen until they can be divided fairly among FTX creditors, with support from those liquidating the company in the Bahamas.
FTX argued that Emergent Fidelity, which is 90% owned by Bankman-Fried and 10% by Wang, is a shell company whose interests are "sufficiently identical" to those of the wider company. Ray has previously complained of defective record-keeping at FTX, and in particular of transfers being made to staff without proper loan documentation.
However, Bankman-Fried and BlockFi have opposed this claim in separate filings, stating that the shares were legitimately purchased using money borrowed from FTX's trading arm, Alameda Research, and that the loan was documented. Bankman-Fried's filing also stated that "it is improper for the FTX Debtors to ask the Court to simply assume that everything Mr. Bankman-Fried ever touched is presumptively fraudulent."
Bankman-Fried argued that he and Wang had legitimately bought the shares using the loan from Alameda Research and that the loan was documented.
The legal battle may ultimately be rendered moot, as a representative of the US Department of Justice told the court that it is seizing the shares as part of proceedings against Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO of FTX on November 11, the same day the company collapsed following allegations of a blurring of lines between FTX and Alameda.