• Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of bankrupt FTX empire, is seeking the return of $700 million given by Sam Bankman-Fried to Michael Kives and Bryan Baum.
• The money was promised after Bankman-Fried was awed by their connections to politicians, billionaires and reality TV stars.
• The payments were made without any due diligence or details on what FTX would gain in return.
Alameda Research Seeks Return of Money
Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the bankrupt FTX empire, is seeking the return of $700 million founder Sam Bankman-Fried appears to have paid for access to celebrities and politicians. The billions promised to “super networkers” Michael Kives and Bryan Baum show Bankman-Fried’s disregard for formalities in spending money from companies he treated as a “slush fund,” lawyers for FTX’s new management said in the Thursday court filing.
Background on Payment
Bankman-Fried appeared starstruck by a February 2022 party at Kives’ house where fellow guests included a former Presidential candidate, actors, reality TV stars, musicians and multiple billionaires. Within weeks, Bankman-Fried had signed a document promising to invest billions in Kives’ and Baum’s companies with little details on what FTX would gain in return. Transfers of $700 million made from Bankman-Fried’s companies to Kives’ and Baum had bankroll investments that personally benefited Bankman-Fried without providing Alameda with any equivalent payoff.
The filing stated that “Bankman-Fried treated the legal entities that he controlled as a slush fund operated with a near total disregard for corporate formalities,” echoing previous criticisms of poor management at the exchange which filed for bankruptcy in November. It added that “the Term Sheet” (signed document) was little more than list of investment ideas on which no meaningful due diligence was conducted”. Additionally it was unclear if Baum was an employee or third party as noted in an internal document saying “it’s sorta complicated and liminal and unclear”.
If successful – Alameda’s lawsuit could have serious implications not just regarding celebrity/political access but also how corporate entities are managed moving forward – particularly if they involve large sums of money being spent without due diligence or clear returns being provided back to shareholders/investors/owners etc..
It remains to be seen whether Alameda will prevail in its lawsuit against Kives’ & Baum however it has raised questions about how much control should founders/CEOs be allowed when it comes to company funds – particularly if those funds are not used appropriately or ethically.