Bankman-Fried to address New York Times summit amid FTX collapse, fraud allegations

Fallen crypto magnate will speak to DealBook event alongside Netanyahu, Zelensky, Zuckerberg, despite widespread charges of unethical conduct at his company

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Samuel Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, testifies during a Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 9, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP)
Samuel Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, testifies during a Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 9, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

NEW YORK — The fallen cryptocurrency magnate Sam Bankman-Fried will headline a New York Times summit this week, despite the high-profile collapse of his company FTX amid widespread allegations of fraud earlier this month.

Bankman-Fried is one of several prominent Jews who will be among the speakers at the Times’ DealBook Summit scheduled for Wednesday in New York City.

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink will all also address the summit. It appeared that Netanyahu and Zelensky would speak via video, and it was not clear if Bankman-Fried would attend in person.

The exclusive conference features talks from “groundbreakers” in the fields of business, technology and politics, the Times said.

The summit aims to reveal “hidden complexities, unexpected relationships and the wide-ranging ripple effects of change,” according to the event website.

Bankman-Fried’s headlining the event has generated controversy due to his company’s stunning implosion and allegations against him of unethical conduct. It will be his first public appearance since his crypto empire fell apart.

In an abrupt downfall, Bankman-Fried, who once had a personal fortune of around $23 billion, is now facing legal threats, possible extradition and bankruptcy. His fortune has all but evaporated. FTX, short billions of dollars, went from the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange with a $32 billion valuation to bankruptcy court in under a week.

Bankman-Fried resigned from FTX, which he founded in 2019, earlier this month.

At the heart of the mismanagement scandal are allegations Bankman-Fried misused billions of dollars in customer funds to keep afloat another company he founded, Alameda Research. Revelations about FTX’s tangled finances caused a run on deposits earlier this month, as concerned customers tried to remove billions of dollars from the exchange, leaving the company bereft of resources. Some investors lost huge amounts of their own money.

Several reports have alleged that Bankman-Fried transferred around $10 billion of customer credit from FTX to Alameda Research.

FTX’s collapse has stunned the crypto industry, which was already wobbly before the scandal.

Bankman-Fried, 30, had been considered a financial wunderkind, was a major donor to the Democratic party and other causes, and cultivated an image as a philanthropist. He was granted positive media coverage before the scandal, including from the Times.

Noting poor internal oversight and record keeping, critics are drawing unsavory parallels between FTX’s implosion and that of Lehmann Brothers and Enron Corp., as well as Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Bankman-Fried is now believed to be in the Bahamas, where FTX was based. He was booked to headline the event before his company collapsed and confirmed on Wednesday that he would be speaking at the event with New York Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

“There are a lot of important questions to be asked and answered,” Sorkin said. “Nothing is off limits.”

Tickets for the event, which required submitting an application and are now sold out, cost $2,499. Besides the main stage talks, the summit includes networking events and a cocktail reception.

The lead sponsor for the event is the US-Irish business management company Accenture.

Other speakers at the conference include New York City Mayor Eric Adams, former US vice president Mike Pence, actor Ben Affleck, CNN host Van Jones, TikTok CEO Shou Chew, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and Netflix founder Reed Hastings.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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