‘SBF met with PM on paying off nat’l debt’

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Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the now collapsed FTX crytocurrency exchange, met with Prime Minister Philip Davis to discuss paying off The Bahamas’ $10 billion national debt, according to news reports yesterday that quoted excerpts of Michael Lewis’ new book on Bankman-Fried and the dramatic FTX saga. The biography, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon”, is being released today, which is also the start of Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial in a Manhattan federal court. Business Insider yesterday reported on an excerpt of the book shared by The Times of London. “Bankman-Fried thought The Bahamas was an appealing location because it had implemented regulations which could legitimize the crypto industry, per Lewis’ biography,” Business Insider said in an online article by Pete Syme. “But the Caribbean nation’s economy – which relies heavily on tourism – had suffered during the COVID pandemic, amplifying the task of convincing FTX’s 40 employees to relocate some 9,000 miles. “So Bankman-Fried started considering the idea of paying off The Bahamas’ national debt himself, so the country could fix roads and build schools more easily, according to Lewis. That idea was also discussed in a meeting with the prime minister of The Bahamas, Philip Davis, the biography says.” But in a statement sent to The Nassau Guardian in response yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) denied that Davis had any such discussions with Bankman-Fried, who was extradited from The Bahamas last December, weeks after the implosion of the cryptocurrency exchange, which was based in The Bahamas. OPM said, “We wish to clarify recent reports surrounding a meeting between Prime Minister Philip Davis and Mr. Sam Bankman-Fried. “Discussions were strictly confined to FTX’s relocation and its operations in The Bahamas, specifically concerning the invitation extended to the prime minister for the inauguration of FTX’s new headquarters. “Mr. Fried advised the prime minister that FTX had changed its position from a satellite office to opening a headquarter. Prime Minister Davis used the platform at the company’s opening to signal that The Bahamas is open for business in the digital currency space. “At no time did Prime Minister Davis accept or entertain hypothetical proposals relating to the payment of the national debt of The Bahamas.” In April 2022, FTX broke ground on what it said would be a $60 million headquarters, revealing plans and sketches that showed two hotel towers, offices and an athletics center. At that ceremony, Davis said the FTX campus will rival that of Google’s headquarters. The Davis administration in welcoming Bankman-Fried and FTX to The Bahamas, had touted The Bahamas’ new regulatory regime as a catalyst for the multi-billion-dollar company’s arrival. The prime minister said at the groundbreaking that FTX’s presence, “sends a strong message that The Bahamas is open for business and that any business such as this, they are safe here; and this is the example since FTX has come here”. He applauded the Securities Commission for “ensuring that good actors as opposed to bad actors come into this space”. The prime minister also agreed with Bankman-Fried that “money is a tool to make the world a better place”. Bankman-Fried said he was happy that his company was finally putting down roots in a country. He said FTX had searched the globe with a fine-tooth comb to find a well-regulated jurisdiction to set up shop. “We weren’t sure where we’d end up and about half-way through that process of sort of investigating the few countries that sort of were investigating the possibility of creating regulatory regimes for cryptocurrencies and of sort of exploring what it was like to be there, we sort of got word that one of them actually had already passed a cryptocurrency regulation regime, one of the only jurisdictions in the world to do so, and that the few emissaries we had sent out to check it out had a really, really good experience. That was The Bahamas,” he said. “Halfway through the process of trying to figure out where we would be, The Bahamas sort of jumped all the way to the front.” Bankman-Fried, who is widely known as SBF, said the work that was done by the Securities Commission of The Bahamas and the government went a long way in helping FTX to make the decision to move its company to The Bahamas. FTX collapsed last year after reports surfaced that the company was co-mingling funds with a hedge fund owned by Bankman-Fried. Bankman-Fried was later arrested in The Bahamas, extradited to the United States and charged with fraud. FTX Digital Markets, The Bahamas-based arm of FTX, was put into provisional liquidation in The Bahamas. The US arm of the company and several other FTX entities were put into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US. Bahamian government officials had touted the economic boost that FTX was expected to bring for The Bahamas. The attorney representing FTX US in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case revealed in court last November that an FTX entity in the US bought almost $300 million in real estate in The Bahamas, mainly homes and vacation properties used by senior executives.

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