FTX's Bankman-Fried says he will testify remotely at congressional hearing

The logo of FTX is seen at the entrance of the FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 12, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, on Monday said he would testify remotely at Tuesday's U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing to examine the collapse of the company.

FTX filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection last month and Bankman-Fried resigned as chief executive, triggering a wave of public demands for greater regulation of the cryptocurrency industry.

The distressed crypto trading platform struggled to raise money to stave off collapse as traders rushed to withdraw $6 billion from the platform in just 72 hours and rival exchange Binance abandoned a proposed rescue deal.

In recent weeks, U.S. authorities have sought information from investors and potential investors in FTX, two sources with knowledge of the requests told Reuters. Prosecutors and regulators have not charged Bankman-Fried with any crime.

Tuesday's hearing will be the first time Bankman-Fried appears publicly before U.S. lawmakers.

In a Twitter Spaces event on Monday with Twitter account Unusual Whales, Bankman-Fried said he would be "calling in" to the hearing from the Bahamas.

He said it was important for him to remain in the Bahamas, where FTX is headquartered, and that it is difficult for him "to move right now and travel because the paparazzi effect is quite large."

A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried confirmed that he would not be testifying at the hearing in person. FTX CEO John Ray will also appear before the committee, although it is not clear if he will testify virtually or in person.

The hybrid hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) on Tuesday.

The Senate Banking Committee will also hold a hearing on FTX's collapse on Wednesday, in which Bankman-Fried says he is not scheduled to appear.

"I am open and willing to have a conversation with the chair and the ranking member about the hearing if they believe it's important that I attend," said Bankman-Fried.

Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, along with the committee's top Republican, Senator Pat Toomey, later issued a statement claiming that Bankman-Fried has declined to appear before the Senate "in an unprecedented abdication of accountability."

Brown and Toomey also said Bankman-Fried's counsel is unwilling to accept service of a subpoena.

Speaking to the Twitter Spaces event, Bankman-Fried said he waited to agree to testify until the House committee's leadership understood "that they were not going to be getting a lot of the answers they're looking for," he said.

Bankman-Fried warned that his testimony was likely to be "underwhelming" because he would be unable to confidently "answer questions that I would really want to be able to, and frankly, really should be able to," given that he no longer has access to internal information at FTX.

Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington Editing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis

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