Kelly Sullivan / Stringer
- The ex-president of FTX’s US affiliate has shared his view of problems at the now-bankrupt crypto empire.
- Brett Harrison said founder Sam Bankman-Fried was “spiteful” and laid out what happened when he spoke up.
- Here are 10 things we learned from Harrison’s huge Twitter thread this weekend, in his best quotes.
Former high-ranking FTX executive Brett Harrison has opened up about problems at the now-bankrupt crypto exchange and his experiences trying to get them fixed — with lots of criticism for founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
Harrison, who was the president of the group’s FTX.US affiliate, made his revelations in a 49-part Twitter thread on Saturday.
He resigned from his role in September, before FTX’s implosion in November, and is now seeking to raise $6 million to build a new crypto startup.
Meanwhile, US prosecutors are looking into what they have called a “fraud of epic proportions” at the FTX group of companies, with $8 billion in customer funds thought to be missing. They have charged Bankman-Fried on eight criminal counts, and the CEO of its trading arm Alameda Research has pleaded guilty to fraud.
Here’s what Harrison had to say about Bankman-Fried, transparency flaws, and the way he was treated when he flagged issues.
Here are Harrison’s 10 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:
1. “My relationship with Sam Bankman-Fried and his deputies had reached a point of total deterioration, after months of disputes over management practices at FTX.” (On his decision to resign after 17 months at FTX.US.)
2. “From the start, I noticed that while Sam was rarely engaged on the US business, decisions impacting the US would come, without warning, from the Bahamas.”
3. “Six months into my time at the company, pronounced cracks began to form in my own relationship with Sam. Around then I began advocating strongly for establishing separation and independence for the executive, legal, and developer teams of FTX US, and Sam disagreed.”
4. “I saw in that early conflict his total insecurity and intransigence when his decisions were questioned, his spitefulness, and the volatility of his temperament. I realized he wasn’t who I remembered.”
5. “There was tremendous pressure not to disagree with Sam, but I did so anyway. At that time, and for all of my time at FTX US, his influence over the media, FTX’s partners, the venture capital industry, and the traditional finance industry was pervasive and unyielding.”
6. “Standing up to an insecure, prideful manager is hard under any circumstance. But it’s nearly impossible when every day, every major voice of culture and commerce deafens you with a narrative that implies if you disagree with your manager *you* clearly must be wrong.”
7. “Sam was uncomfortable with conflict. He responded at times with dysregulated hostility, at times with gaslighting and manipulation, but ultimately chose to isolate me from communication on key decision-making.”
8. “I wasn’t the only one at FTX US who disagreed with Sam and members of his inner circle. FTX US was staffed with experienced professionals from US finance firms, law firms, and regulated exchanges.”
“Our collective experience and professional acumen were frequently treated as though they were irrelevant and valueless. It was extremely frustrating for all of us.”
8. “I raised concerns at the company believing that the management and organizational issues I saw were typical of growing start-ups, and that my role, as an experienced financial services executive, was to correct them and unlock the next stage of the company’s growth.”
“I never could have guessed that underlying these kinds of issues — which I’d seen at other more mature firms in my career and believed not to be fatal to business success — was multi-billion-dollar fraud.”
6. “In early April 2022, my eleventh month, I made one last try. I made a written formal complaint about what I saw to be the largest organizational problems inhibiting FTX’s future success. I wrote that I would resign if the problems weren’t addressed.
“In response, I was threatened on Sam’s behalf that I would be fired and that Sam would destroy my professional reputation. I was instructed to formally retract what I’d written and to deliver an apology to Sam that had been drafted for me.”
9. “It’s clear from what has been made public that the scheme was held closely by Sam and his inner circle at FTX. com and Alameda, which I was not a part of, nor were other executives at FTX US. I understand now why they carefully concealed their criminal activity from us.”