FTX gets court approval to subpoena founder Bankman-Fried, other insiders

FILE PHOTO: Former FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, departs from his court hearing at a federal court in New York City's Manhattan, U.S. January 3, 2023. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado/

(Reuters) - Failed crypto firm FTX received court approval on Wednesday to issue subpoenas to its founder Sam Bankman-Fried and members of his family as part of the company's investigation into "misappropriated and stolen" funds.

FTX, a once-prominent crypto exchange, filed for bankruptcy protection in November amid allegations that Bankman-Fried used FTX customers' money to prop up the balance sheet of the FTX-affiliated hedge fund Alameda Research. FTX said that it needs more information from former insiders, including its indicted founder, to identify misspending that could be clawed back to repay FTX's customers.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Dorsey, who is overseeing FTX's Chapter 11 proceedings, approved FTX's request to issue subpoenas to Bankman-Fried, his parents Barbara Fried and Joseph Bankman, his brother Gabriel Bankman-Fried, former FTX Chief Technology Officer Gary Wang, former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, and former FTX chief operating officer Constance Wang.

FTX said in court papers filed Wednesday that most of the subpoena targets had begun cooperating with its investigation. FTX said that it is still in discussions with Ellison and that Sam Bankman-Fried "remains non-responsive."

Ellison and Gary Wang have pleaded guilty to fraud charges for their role in the collapse of FTX and Alameda. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to face trial in federal court in Manhattan in October.

The subpoenas focus on questionable spending by FTX insiders. That includes $16.7 million spent on Bahamian real estate by Bankman-Fried's parents and a Washington, D.C., headquarters building purchased by Guarding Against Pandemics, an advocacy organization founded by the Bankman-Fried brothers.

FTX is also seeking information about political donations. In addition to donations by Sam Bankman-Fried, his mother founded a political action committee called Mind the Gap, which makes recommendations to a network of political donors.

Bankman-Fried declined to comment, and members of his family could not immediately be reached for comment. Mind the Gap has previously said that Sam Bankman-Fried did not make any direct contributions to the organization but did donate to some of its recommended programs.

(Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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