Lawyers for FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried have refused to accept a subpoena for the disgraced cryptocurrency magnate to appear before the Senate Banking Committee, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the panel said Monday.
In a Monday statement, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and ranking Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) blasted Bankman-Fried for “an unprecedented abdication of accountability” after rejecting several requests to testify at hearings about the collapse of FTX.
“Virtually every CEO, financial regulator, and administration official for Republicans and Democrats has agreed to testify in front of both the Senate and House when called upon – that is how congressional oversight works,” Brown and Toomey said.
“Given that Bankman-Fried’s counsel has stated they are unwilling to accept service of a subpoena, we will continue to work to have him appear before the Committee. He owes the American people an explanation,” they continued.
Bankman-Fried, who lives in the Bahamas, is being represented by Mark S. Cohen of law firm Cohen & Gresser, a prominent white collar criminal defense attorney. The Hill has reached out to Cohen for comment.
While Bankman-Fried is set to testify virtually before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, he has refused to commit to appearing before the Senate Banking panel. The Banking Committee is set to hold its own hearing on the FTX collapse Thursday, but Bankman-Fried suggested during a Monday livestream on Twitter that he was too busy to appear.
Brown and Toomey said Monday they gave Bankman-Fried a chance to testify on Dec. 20 instead, but that offer was also refused.
“We have offered Sam Bankman-Fried two different dates for providing testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and are willing to accommodate virtual testimony. He has declined in an unprecedented abdication of accountability,” the senators said.
Lawmakers have been eager to press Bankman-Fried on his role in the collapse of FTX, particularly after he’s admitted to several missteps and potentially illegal conduct that laid the groundwork for his company’s demise.
Bankman-Fried said he and FTX leaders lacked basic information about the amount of money it owed to customers and how much hard cash it had to back up its obligations. He also said FTX sent money held by customers on its exchange to fund Alameda’s investments — many of which failed — even though FTX promised users it would not use customer money for such purposes.
It is unclear what consequences Bankman-Fried or his counsel could face for rejecting service— or, the actual physical presentation—of the subpoena. But those who flout subpoenas given to them from Congress can face serious legal repercussions.
Former Trump White House and campaign strategist Stephen Bannon was sentenced to four months in federal prison in October after defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.