Bahamas the
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

FNM chairman queries FTX chief’s local status


Tribune Business Editor

The Government should begin examining “in a very deliberate fashion” the immigration status held by embattled FTX chief, Sam Bankman-Fried, and his close associates, the FNM chairman said yesterday.

Dr Duane Sands told Tribune Business it would be “an interesting study” to find out what status the crypto currency exchange’s co-founder, and his senior executives, hold as numerous questions surround whether their permits were “fast tracked”.

Pointing out that those present in The Bahamas on work permits hold their status for a role that no longer exists, and therefore should be moving to wind-up their affairs and leave the jurisdiction, he added that Mr Bankman-Fried’s status would also “speak to the policy” pursued by the Davis administration in embracing FTX when it arrived in this nation in September 2021.

“It would be an interesting study to know what the various permit statuses are for all of the primaries and then to make a determination as to whether or not there is still a need for these individuals in-country,” Dr Sands told this newspaper. “We don’t know if they are on work permits or have residency.

“It would be an interesting exercise to find out the statuses. It would be interesting to see whether or not they were fast-tracked.” Given the significant value of Bahamian property purchases made by FTX Property Holdings, estimated conservatively to have a collective worth of between $120m to $130m, and the $2m One Cable Beach penthouse said to be in his personal name, Mr Bankman-Fried would certainly have met the criteria for accelerated permanent residency consideration.

“You’re talking about a significant amount of property acquired, but also are only talking about September 2021 until now,” Dr Sands said. “You could ask the question how is it that could happen so quick or whether there was any special consideration given. I am sure that many people would find it an interesting case study to know.

“Given that the Department of Immigration, and the Ministry of Labour and Immigration, ought to be keeping tabs on anyone in the country whose primary role no longer exists, I’d like to know what their plans are to remain in the country and on what basis. I think it’s perfectly reasonable now for that process to take place in a very deliberate fashion. This is going to have some ramifications as this whole story plays out.”

The Bahamian Immigration status enjoyed by Mr Bankman-Fried and his close associates has been a little-explored angle amid FTX’s spectacular implosion, and collapse into provisional liquidation in The Bahamas and Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US. Keith Bell, minister of labour and Immigration, declined comment when contacted by Tribune Business.

Dr Sands yesterday said the possibility of criminal charges being brought against Mr Bankman-Fried, either in The Bahamas or US, remains “speculative” at this stage and he declined further comment. However, as long as the FTX co-founder remains holed up in The Bahamas, conducting his ‘mea culpa’ world tour via the Internet, intense global media attention will be focused on this nation together with all the reputational and integrity risks that brings.

“It is not an unreasonable concern,” the FNM chairman said of the Immigration issue, “particularly as you look at the way in which this entity, FTX, imploded. Some may say it’s a bit too climactic that we are dissecting this, but these are important concerns.

“The person talking the most now is Sam Bankman-Fried himself. I don’t think anyone can be speaking any more than he is. As of right now he seems to be resident in The Bahamas, whether that’s as a permanent resident or on a work permit. There are obviously people that know, but at no point has that been made public to my knowledge. It will be interesting to know what Immigration status he holds because it’s going to speak to the policy of this administration.”

Tribune Business was previously shown a report, which checks confirmed was genuine and had been well-researched, disclosing that FTX has acquired some $74.23m in west New Providence real estate during 2022 alone. Most of these purchases involved property in the high-end Albany community, along with the acquisition of units in the Veridian Corporate Centre.

The acquisitions by FTX Property Holdings, the crypto exchange’s real estate arm, ranged in value from a high of $30m to $8.9m, $7.479m, $7.311m, $7m and $6.75m at Albany, according to the report, which was being widely circulated on social media. Some $4.5m was also spent to acquire the Bayside Executive Park site for its planned $60m headquarters, which is now almost certain not to proceed.

The report also showed a $2.29m purchase at the Veridian Corporate Centre. “The corporate offices for FTX are currently housed at the Veridian Corporate Centre,” the document said. “These are not rentals or leases. FTX has purchased these units outright. Additionally, there is one purchase of a condominium at One Cable Beach for $2m made by Sam Bankman-Fried directly in late 2021.”

Robert J. Ray, the chief executive for FTX Trading and the entities covered by the Delaware Chapter 11 filings, alleged previously that corporate funds belonging to the crypto exchange were used to fund Bahamian real estate purchases by its executives who then put the properties in their own, personal names rather than the company’s.

“In The Bahamas, I understand that corporate funds of the FTX group were used to purchase homes and other personal items for employees and advisors. I understand that there does not appear to be documentation for certain of these transactions as loans, and that certain real estate was recorded in the personal name of these employees and advisors on the records of The Bahamas,” Mr Ray asserted.