The digital asset exchange filed for bankruptcy after users learned that the company was intertwined with sister firm Alameda Research; both were controlled by Bankman-Fried and other young business leaders working from a luxury penthouse in the Bahamas. The entrepreneur was recently detained by authorities in the island nation, where his companies were headquartered, and extradited to the United States, where he faces a number of fraud charges that could place him behind bars for 115 years.
White House visitor logs show that Bankman-Fried was granted audiences with senior Biden administration officials in the months preceding his arrest, according to a report from Bloomberg, as a part of his efforts to impact cryptocurrency policy in the United States.
The disgraced entrepreneur met with Steve Richetti, the former chairman of the Biden presidential campaign and a current senior adviser to the commander-in-chief, on September 8. The other meetings, which have already been reported, include two other rendezvous with Ricchetti on April 22 and May 12, as well as a meeting with Bruce Reed, the administration’s deputy chief of staff. Both officials previously served as chief of staff to Biden when he was serving as vice president under former President Barack Obama.
Bankman-Fried has certainly earned his right to visit the Executive Mansion: he was the second-largest donor to the campaign which placed Biden in the Oval Office two years ago, and the sixth-largest overall donor in the most recent midterm elections, during which he contributed nearly $39 million to various Democratic campaigns, according to data from Open Secrets.
Gabriel Bankman-Fried, the head of the nonprofit Guarding Against Pandemics and the younger brother of the former cryptocurrency wunderkind, partook in a meeting at the White House of his own in March and joined in the May 13 meeting with his sibling. An official told Bloomberg that the discussions surrounded cryptocurrency and pandemic prevention.
Even beyond the two brothers, the Bankman-Fried family is extraordinarily well-connected in Democratic circles. Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried are professors at Stanford Law School; the former has drafted legislation for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), one of the most zealous opponents of cryptocurrency in the federal government, while the latter ran Mind the Gap, an organization that fundraises for Democrats among wealthy Silicon Valley executives.
The group raised some $4 million during the most recent midterm elections, according to data from Open Secrets, which also revealed that FTX Director of Engineering Nishad Singh made a $1 million contribution. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt were among those who have made contributions to the group, according to a report from Vox, which characterized one of the entity’s purposes as avoiding “public detection.”
Linda Fried, the aunt of the Bankman-Fried brothers, is the dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Human Enhancement.
Among the entities returning funds to FTX for distribution to possibly defrauded investors and customers is the Senate Majority PAC, which organizes campaign money for Democrats seeking election in the upper chamber. The organization had received $3 million in combined donations made by Bankman-Fried and Singh.