AUSTIN, Texas — SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci recounted the time he spent with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas during the firm’s harrowing final days, on Thursday during Consensus 2023.
Scaramucci served as a mentor and business partner to Bankman-Fried, coordinating the crypto wunderkind’s fundraising trips in North America and the Middle East before FTX’s implosion. FTX also purchased a 30% stake in SkyBridge Capital, deepening the ties between the firms’ founders.
But that relationship hit a rough patch in November, when a CoinDesk investigation revealed the now-bankrupt exchange might be on shaky financial footing. Soon after, Scaramucci flew to the Bahamas to talk in person with Bankman-Fried. It was there that he stumbled upon a “war room” of FTX executives, he said.
Read full coverage of Consensus 2023 here.
“The war room was despondent, and … it was clear to a few people that there was a very small group of people [at FTX] that had done some [bad] things,” Scaramucci said.
Financial crimes often happen when a small group of individuals plot among themselves, said Scaramucci, who compared FTX’s alleged fraud to that of infamous Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.
“It’s very hard to commit a crime like this with a large group of people because … there’s always a person of conscience that comes out and says, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do this,’” Scaramucci said.
At the center of the war room was Bankman-Fried, who looked “disassociated,” Scaramucci said.
“He was apologizing to me for what happened,” Scaramucci said. “He was claiming that [FTX’s shortfall] was [due to] mislabeling.”
Despite the drama during the exchange’s final days, its collapse has not affected SkyBridge as greatly as some media reports have suggested, Scaramucci said.
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“We’re sitting on ample cash on our balance sheet and ample crypto currency reserves,” Scaramucci said. “Some people in the press have written a couple of obituaries about SkyBridge, but I think our demise is greatly exaggerated.”