In a show entitled ‘Downfall of the Crypto King’, BBC’s flagship documentary show, Panorama, explored the implosion of FTX and the criminal investigation against Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).
The show commenced with Marc Cohodes describing SBF as the “ultimate fake”, as he documented his rise and how his persona was elevated in the media as a quiet, unassuming crypto billionaire.
According to Joshua Oliver, who is a crypto investigator at the Financial Times, SBF tapped into the Silicon Valley investment culture, which is fuelled by a real belief in “unusual but aspirational investors”.
As well as detailing some of the flashy marketing of FTX, which included a Super Bowl advert with Larry David, the documentary introduced the story of investors who had lost money as a result of its collapse.
Meanwhile, as Cohodes was incredibly skeptical over the credentials of SBF, his mainstream brand was building at a rapid rate – becoming what the documentary described as ‘a political power player in DC’. SBF even used political leverage from donations to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to pursue a regulatory crypto framework that was ‘advantageous to FTX’.
Amidst a backdrop of crypto’s general downfall, FTX continued to ‘splash money as if they had it to burn’, after a link up between Anthony Scaramucci and SBF led to the FTX leader sharing a stage with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair during the company’s Bahamas Crypto conference.
And shortly after the superficial flaunting of FTX, the company’s downfall began as Scaramucci stated he witnessed SBF ‘having an existential crisis at being caught in the crosshairs of a crypto catastrophe’.
Consciously, the documentary then shifts from telling the story of ‘a disassociated’ SBF in the Bahamas, to a somewhat heartbroken Sunil Kavuri in Derbyshire, who revealed he lost £2.1 million as a result of the collapse.
Off the back of a failed attempt to save FTX by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, the shortcomings of FTX truly came to light and the process in which the company was taking in terms of strategy was highlighted by the documentary as they published an interview with the company’s ex employees.
These included stories of significant documents being signed off by emojis and compliance officers being hired based with no experience in the space, as the company continued to ‘burn through millions’ at a time when the wider crypto space was under economic strain.
We then hear from Tiffany Fong, a YouTuber who SBF used to start a media campaign as he sought to clear his name off the back of resigning as FTX CEO.
Nonetheless, the efforts were futile as ‘a great betrayal’ took place following SBF’s arrest and his closest allies plead guilty to charges of fraud. Additionally, as the extent of SBF’s alleged stealing slowly comes to light, it’s also revealed that charitable causes never received any money from FTX.
To conclude, the documentary offers concern that SBF, who was once deemed as the poster child of crypto, having such a dramatic fall from grace will lead to the descension of stability for the sector as a whole. With one commentator even calling it ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
The FTX chief is set to take stand trial next month and has continually denied any wrongdoing.