Former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison took the stand on Tuesday to testify to the alleged crypto fraud led by her and her ex-boyfriend, Sam Bankman-Fried.
Ellison claimed that Alameda took over $10 billion FTX customer to pay off its loans, all at Bankman-Fried’s order.
Caroline Ellison Speaks
As summarized by Inner City Press on Tuesday, Ellison confessed immediately that she committed fraud alongside Bankman-Fried and others. “He directed me to commit these crimes,” she said.
“Alameda took several billions of dollars from FTX customers and used it for investments,” she continued. “He set up the systems and told us to take the money.”
When asked how much money Alameda had taken, Ellison said it was “in the ballpark of $10 billion,” and “ultimately around $14 billion.” She added that Alameda had received between $10 billion and $20 billion of FTX money within Alameda’s bank account, which FTX used for banking access at Silvergate.
Ellison’s claims corroborate those of FTX co-founder Gary Wang, who confirmed last week that Alameda traded with FTX customers’ money using a “special privilege” that let it trade with money beyond what it held in its account.
The feature, called “allow negative” had been actively used by Alameda as early as 2019, accordion to Wang. The executive said Alameda used the feature to withdraw $8 billion worth of fiat and crypto beyond what it actually owned.
“If a coin was trading higher on Binance, we could withdraw from FTX and sell there,” Ellison explained.
Ellison said she fooled Alameda’s creditors by sharing balance sheets with them which “made Alameda look less risky than it was.” Several other crypto lending firms and trading desks including LEDN and Genesis were directly exposed to Alameda.
In order to secure a loan from Genesis, Ellison said Bankman-Fried told her to put FTX’s exchange token, FTT, on the firm’s balance sheet. Trading above $70 back in September 2022, FTT now trades for just $1 according to CoinGecko.
As part of a bankruptcy filing in July, BlockFi creditors claimed that the firm’s CEO Zac Prince knew about Alameda’s perilous balance sheet and reliance on FTT well before the trading desk’s implosion.
Pertaining to her relationship with Bankman-Fried, Ellison said they began sleeping together “on and off in the summer of 2020.” Regarding his ambitions, Ellison said he wanted to become the President of the United States.
The FTX founder is known for having held numerous connections to politicians, many of whom viewed him favorably prior to his exchange’s collapse. In a previous version of the government’s indictment, the DOJ had charged Bankman-Fried with numerous campaign finance violations and forms of bribery.