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  • L Hickey and M Bacina

The Timeline of FTX's Collapse

Updated: May 3

The fall of FTX, a Bahamas based crypto exchange that was once the third largest in the world, was shocking and has been closely watched and will have a significant impact on the crypto world. Below we chart some key dates in the collapse.

  • 2 November – Leaked balance sheet

CoinDesk reported on a leaked balance sheet from Alameda Research, Sam Bankman-Fried's hedge fund, reporting that much of Alameda's reserves were based on the FTX native token FTT and that Alameda held far more of those tokens than were tradeable on the market. CoinDesk suggested that Alameda's stake would be hard to liquidate at the current market prices.

  • 6 November – Binance announces plan to sell its FTT holdings

The CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), announced via Twitter his plan to sell Binance's FTT holdings. This resulted in a significant fall in the price of FTT.

  • 8 November – Binance announces intention to acquire FTX

SBF and CZ announced via Twitter that Binance signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy FTX. The deal was subject to due diligence with CZ noting that:

There is a lot to cover and will take some time. This is a highly dynamic situation, and we are assessing the situation in real time. Binance has the discretion to pull out from the deal at any time. We expect FTT to be highly volatile in the coming days as things develop.
  • 9 November – Binance pulls out of deal and regulators investigate FTX, FTX Withdrawals "sluggish"

After urgent due diligence review, Binance announced that it will proceed with the deal to acquire FTX and that the ‘issues are beyond our control or ability to help’. The SEC also announced that they were looking into allegations of mishandled customer funds by FTX US and Alameda Research. FTX withdrawals are reported to have become "sluggish". Reports come out that "most" of the FTX legal and compliance team have quit. stopping withdrawals of USDC and USDT on the Solana blockchain.

  • 10 November – Alameda Research collapses and FTX seeks finance

In an attempt to save FTX, or at least limit exposure, the sister entity, Alameda Research, began to wind down trading. Then CEO of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), announced the move on Twitter:

[R]ight now, we're spending the week doing everything we can to raise liquidity. I can’t make any promises about that.

FTX needing liquidity, turned to investors, seeking around $9.4 billion to rescue the company from the fall with many users pulling out their holdings.

  • 11 November - FTX Trading files for bankruptcy and SBF steps down

SBF steps down as CEO and to only act to assist in an orderly transition. FTX, along with around 130 other associated entities, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. FTX announced that this movement to start bankruptcy proceedings is:

to review and monetize assets for the benefit of all global stakeholders.

FTX Australia Pty Ltd an FTX Express Pty Ltd entered external administration in Australia and were carved out of the Chapter 11 annoucement.

  • 12 November – Unaccounted for customer funds

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic announced that $473 million in assets were:

moved out of FTX wallets in suspicious circumstances.

FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller, said via Twitter that the company:

initiated precautionary steps to move all digital assets to cold storage.
  • 13 November – Bahamas authorities take action

The Bahamas Securities Commission announced that they are conducting an investigation not FTX to determine if:

any criminal misconduct occurred.
  • 16 November – SBF gives stunning interviews

SBF continues to post comments to Twitter and gives an interview over twitter messages to Vox which sets out his intention to try and help, but also appears to implicate his behaviour and decisions.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

Alameda had accumulated a large “margin position” on FTX, essentially meaning it had borrowed funds from the exchange, Bankman-Fried said. “It was substantially larger than I had thought it was,” he said. “And in fact the downside risk was very significant.” He said the size of the position was in the billions of dollars, but declined to provide further details.
  • 18 November – Bankruptcy Trustee Jay Ray III speaks out

The Bankruptcy Trustee, Mr Jay Ray III said of his preliminary investigations:

From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented

This underscores that the collapse was not due to any technological issue with blockchain or cryptocurrency, but appears to be due to the decisions and actions of a small group of people, compounded by the systems and processes at FTX.

What's Next?

At this stage, there is uncertainty around whether there will be further contagion in the industry and what this collapse will mean for the crypto industry and regulation more broadly, with plans for crypto exchange licensing in Australia brought forward in response.


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