FTX teams in U.S., Bahamas to coordinate crypto recovery efforts

By Tom Hals and Dietrich Knauth

(Reuters) -FTX’s U.S.-based bankruptcy team have agreed to coordinate with liquidators winding down the crypto exchange’s operations in the Bahamas, resolving a dispute that threatened the recovery of what could be billions of dollars in lost funds.

In a joint statement on Friday, the two sides said they will work to share information, secure property and coordinate litigation against third parties.

FTX’s U.S. bankruptcy team has been at odds with Bahamian officials since November, when competing bankruptcies were filed in the two countries.

The Securities Commission of the Bahamas began liquidation proceedings on Nov. 10 against FTX Digital Markets Ltd., the company’s Bahamas-based unit. The next day a U.S. Chapter 11 proceeding was filed in Delaware, which included more than 100 FTX entities including FTX Trading and crypto hedge fund Alameda Research.

Bahamian regulators have seized FTX assets, which officials said was meant to safeguard assets that will ultimately be returned to creditors of FTX Digital Markets.

John Ray, who took control of FTX after founder Sam Bankman-Fried resigned in November, had accused Bahamas-based liquidators of colluding with the disgraced founder to undermine the U.S. bankruptcy case and shift assets to the Bahamas.

Ray’s attorneys had refused the liquidators’ demand for access to internal systems and Slack and email accounts, saying they “did not trust” the Bahamians with information that could be used to siphon assets away from the U.S. bankruptcy team.

Bahamian securities regulators accused Ray of displaying “a cavalier attitude towards the truth” in his statements about the Bahamian asset seizures.

The U.S. team has also disputed the size of the Bahamian assets that were seized, saying they were worth $296 million in November, not $3.5 billion as the liquidators estimated. Friday’s statement said the U.S. team was now comfortable the assets were appropriately safeguarded.

Ray said there were still some issues to be worked out in the agreement with the liquidators from the Bahamas. Friday’s statement said details of the agreement would be filed “shortly” with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Ray, one of the liquidators and attorneys for the liquidators did not respond to a request for comment.

Bankman-Fried was arrested on fraud charges and pleaded not guilty on Jan. 3. Ray has said the exchange lost $8 billion of customer money, and added the bankruptcy team is focused on recovering assets to repay creditors.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

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