EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Sam Bankman-Fried spent a huge amount of money during his year in the Bahamas, before his crypto empire collapsed and filed for bankruptcy after allegedly mishandling the funds of as many as one million clients.
He bought a $40 million penthouse with water views on three sides and a $60 million lot where he “took the land” on FTX’s future headquarters but never started construction. When visited on Sunday, the site was a weed-fenced tract overlooking the Atlantic.
Bankman-Fried reportedly doled out tens of thousands of dollars a week to feed his Bahamas-based staff before his $32 billion crypto empire collapsed. Plus, there’s his multimillion-dollar 52-foot yacht HCB.
He has donated millions to local government and charities in the Bahamas, prompting local media reports that “FTX tentacles stretched across the Bahamas.”
“They were walking around the Bahamas making it rain,” a Ukrainian expat who works in finance on the island told Fox News Digital on Sunday.
However, John Ray, who was named CEO of FTX after Bankman-Fried disclosed his financial woes, filed for bankruptcy and resigned, said in court that FTX and its dozens of subsidiaries lacked departments accounting and HR functions, and Bankman-Fried received a $1 billion personal loan from one of his firms.
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“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of reliable financial information as occurred here,” he wrote, after noting twice working on Enron’s collapse, in a statement in court this week. “From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight overseas, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.”
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Ray, the attorney who oversaw Enron’s $23 billion bankruptcy in 2001, added that he “has no faith” in FTX’s financial statements.
A Nov. 19 filing revealed that the exchange owes its 50 largest creditors nearly $3.1 billion, all of which are customers, though the filing did not name them. The companies’ total liabilities are estimated to be over $10 billion. An estimated one million customers and other investors are facing combined losses in the billions of dollars.
For his part, Bankman-Fried declined to respond to Fox News Digital when asked if his shopping spree in the Bahamas had been paid for with customer goods. He has also declined multiple interview requests.
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Al Cocoplum, a boutique bistro down the street from FTX’s headquarters on the island of New Providence, spent $2,500 a day, staffers said.
It’s the kind of place where a lone diner will drop $80 and change for a New York strip steak and two Diet Cokes.
Workers said the restaurant was just one of several local restaurateurs regularly delivering lunch, at a combined cost of about $10,000 a day.
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FTX employees also came in during business hours with guests for lunch meetings, staff said. However, according to a bartender, they never came back for happy hour.
“I’m geek man,” he said. “They’re not dating.”
FTX employed about 300 people on the island, although a full employee list was not available, according to Ray’s court documents.
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A handful of executives from his inner circle lived with Bankman-Fried in his oceanfront penthouse within the ultra-exclusive Albany Resort. The 600-acre private community includes a mega yacht marina, private school and golf course designed by co-owner Ernie Els. There’s a Wall Street Bull statue on a lawn in the heart of the complex, and a free “Fearless Girl” sculpture that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
Bankman-Fried lives atop a low-rise yacht-like building, overlooking the marina, ocean, and angular architecture of the rest of the complex. He and his inner circle have reportedly experimented with prescription stimulants and polyamory—or having multiple romantic relationships at the same time—while siphoning billions of dollars from their clientele.
Albany, near the waterfront of disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard, a former temple-themed estate, is owned by Tiger Woods, Els, Justin Timberlake and British financier Joe Lewis, whose 322-foot, $150 million superyacht dollars was seen floating off shore all weekend. It’s actually too big for the Albany Marina, designed to support luxury vessels up to 250 feet in length.
Forbes in 2019 called the Albany community “one of the most exclusive resorts in the world.”
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Crews rake the beaches every time the tide goes out to get rid of seaweed and other debris. A pile of sand near the pier is used to cool the narrow waterfront.
There is a hotel on the grounds, where a woman who answered the phone sent in paperwork showing charges of $5,100 a night for members only, plus tax. Membership starts at $6,000.
In Bankman-Fried’s penthouse hideout on Sunday, the curtains were drawn, but a single floor-to-ceiling window was open, the curtains dancing in a light Bahamian breeze — until someone closed it.
A passing sailor said he used to bump into Bankman-Fried, who has his 52-foot, multimillion-dollar HCB vessel, on a regular basis.
“Since everything that’s happened, nobody’s seen it,” she told Fox News Digital. “I park my boat right there. I used to see him every day.”
A woman on the beach said she knew Bankman-Fried, who was still living in the penthouse and declined to discuss the FTX situation.
The Albany grounds are closed to the public. The restaurants, clubs, and other venues inside are members-only; however, FTX employees were said to appear all over the island before the collapse.
Baha Mar, a massive five-star resort that can be seen from the sea on the far side of the island, is the heart of local nightlife, locals told Fox News Digital.
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Several said wealthy FTX employees could join the rest of the island’s party population. However, while the crypto crowd may distinguish between tourists and hip locals, no one met by Fox News Digital said they worked for FTX before the crash.
“It shows we’re open to digital exploration, but it also shows we’re open to scams,” said one patron, who said he works in marketing. “What really matters is how they respond to these kids.”
Paul Best of Fox News contributed to this report.