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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Sam Bankman-Fried Was the PLP’s Cash Cow. His Fall Imploded the Party’s Pocket

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Fallen Crypto King Sam Bankman-Fried not only imploded the cryptocurrency market but dealt a heavy blow to the pocket of the governing party of the Bahamas.

The Progressive Liberal Party suffered financially since Bankman-Fried was a generous megadonor and facilitated government expenses like the Dubai Exhibition 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Royal Banquet at Bahamar and the Hurricane Dorian Benefit Concert.

Before FTX the $32 billion bitcoin exchange collapsed into bankruptcy on Friday and the prospect of millions evaporated from its platform, CEO Bankman-Fried formed a close tie to the PLP.

He was the government’s single largest donor, who extended his wealth not only to the PLP in the Bahamas but also President Joe Biden, dishing out more than $5 million to back his presidential campaign in 2020 against Donald Trump.

Bankman-Fried is seen with Prime Minister Philip Davis breaking ground at his proposed FTX Headquarters in the Bahamas.

It is not known how much money the billionaire doled out after he moved his company’s headquarters to the Bahamas in April, but it is believed to be millions.

At press conferences when questioned by media about the cost of national events, government spokespersons often concealed his identity, only stating that other expenses were incurred by “a corporate donor” or “the private sector.”

In January when controversy arose over the exorbitant cost and size of the contingent which traveled to the Dubai Expo 2020, Director of Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister Latrae Rahming said “The UAE has spent $3.5 million, and the Bahamian private sector has contributed half a million dollars.”

In May when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Bahamas and the media questioned the price tag of the Royal Visit, the committee responsible for planning the event tabulated the cost, and released a statement which in part read, “On this visit, the cost of travel to and from The Bahamas will be borne by the Royal household. The Governor General’s reception is being sponsored by a corporate donor.”

FTX’s Communication Director Valdez Russell is seen in social media posts, attending events, including the Dorian Concert which featured renowned gospel artist Cece Winans, which suggests that FTX funded the concert. He  also attended the Bahamas Pavilion in Dubai earlier in the year, stating in a post, “Stopped in to see the Bahamas Pavilion and got even more excited about exciting possibilities as FTX becomes a platinum sponsor.” In addition, Russell makes his presence known at the Royal Gala held at Bahamar for Prince William and Princess Kate as he socializes with the royals and other attendees.

 

Other photos posted to Russell’s social media page show Former Cabinet Ministers in the Christie Administration, Allyson Maynard and Jerome Fitzgerald attending an FTX-USA event and rubbing shoulders with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Maynard is reported to be FTX’s lawyer and was responsible for helping Banker-Fried establish his headquarters in the Bahamas.

FTX billionaire Bankman-Fried is no stranger to tying himself to political groups, eager to woo crypto-friendly politicians. He is the second biggest donor of the Democratic Party in the USA doling out $40 million to Democrats during the 2022 midterm election, with hopes of influencing legislature and policymakers so that FTX gets special treatment in the market.

Jeff Hauser, director of the left-leaning Revolving Door Project, said “A lot of people in the Democratic Party got really close to Sam Bankman-Fried, and it reflects very badly on people who took this guy seriously,” he said. “People who in their past lives have taken on corporate power have been bedazzled by money seemingly being thrown their way.”

In October, Bankman-Fried said he could spend anywhere from $100 million to $1 billion on Democratic races through 2024, but later walked back his comments.

“We’ve never seen something like this on this scale,” said Bradley Beychok, co-founder of American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC. “On our side, there’s a small pool of people who write these kinds of checks and they tend to be the same folks. But Sam, to his credit, came right in with a big splash.”

The crypto power broker is now being scrutinized by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for his company’s handling of customer funds. What will the PLP do as US politicians now begin to distance themselves from Bankman-Fried?

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