In the months preceding the downfall of FTX and his eventual arrest, Sam Bankman-Fried maintained regular interactions with influential political and financial leaders in New York City.
In March 2022, the embattled cryptocurrency magnate dined with New York City Mayor Eric Adams at Osteria La Baia, an Italian eatery situated close to the Museum of Modern Art.
The restaurant is recognized as a favored after-hours rendezvous location for the mayor.
While the mayor’s official itinerary verified the engagement, it remained silent on the details of their conversation.
Furthermore, in September 2022, Bankman-Fried had an appointment to convene with New York Governor Kathy Hochul at The Capital Grille steakhouse. This venue was an atypical selection considering Bankman-Fried’s commitment to veganism.
Evidence in the form of selected emails, provided by the prosecution, accentuated the immense interest in securing Bankman-Fried’s participation and expertise before FTX’s downfall.
Numerous investment entities, encompassing those affiliated with George Soros and Morgan Stanley, expressed keenness to attend group dinners structured to interact with the cryptocurrency wunderkind.
Special Agent Richard Busick, during his testimony, emphasized the jam-packed nature of Bankman-Fried’s agenda, punctuated with engagements with luminaries.
At one instance, he would be involved in a concise photoshoot with Forbes in the heart of midtown. Shortly after, his calendar would be marked with meetings with powerful individuals such as Saudi Arabia’s finance minister, Khalid A. Al-Falih, and the leader of its sovereign wealth fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
Every appointment on Bankman-Fried’s docket was scrupulously orchestrated by his personal aide, Natalie Tien. Her adeptness in maneuvering the CEO’s bustling itinerary was captured in Michael Lewis’ publication, titled “Going Infinite.”
New York Mayor Remains a Strong Crypto Supporter
Mayor Adams showcases a clear affinity for cryptocurrencies. He even opted to receive his inaugural mayoral salary in Bitcoin and Ether, though he immediately exchanged these for U.S. dollars.
He’s voiced his ambition to position New York City as a leading nexus for cryptocurrency activities.
On the regulatory side, New York stands out among states with its stringent requirements. Businesses involved in both fiat and virtual currency transmissions need to obtain both a BitLicense and a conventional money transmitter license.
In addition, the state mandates these firms to undergo evaluations to ensure adherence to regulations and compliance with know-your-customer and anti-money laundering protocols.
Following the notable implosion of the crypto exchange FTX, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) has rolled out multiple additional regulations for cryptocurrency entities.
The regulatory authority recently issued a directive necessitating companies to distinctly segregate their crypto holdings from those of their clientele.
This decision was prompted following discoveries of intertwined finances between the now-insolvent crypto exchange FTX and its associated trading division, Alameda Research.
Come April, the NYSDFS introduced a fresh statute obliging entities possessing a BitLicense to remit assessment charges akin to those levied on insurance and banking establishments.
This move effectively positioned digital asset businesses on parallel footing with insurance and banking entities, both of which contribute to the assessment fees that finance the operations of the regulatory agency.