Onchain Investigation Exposes Unreported Transactions Tied to Controversial FTX Co-Founder

Sam-Bankman-Fried-FTX scam
Written by Joy Rice

Onchain research has revealed that wallets linked to Sam Bankman-Fried, the controversial co-founder of FTX, conducted a large number of previously unreported transactions across various blockchains. The transfers were discovered by Conor Grogan, a director at Coinbase. Most of the transactions took place on December 28, with some activity also occurring in the early days of the new year. 

Approximately one week ago on December 28, 2022, on-chain investigators discovered that several funds linked to FTX and Alameda Research wallets were transferred while Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, was under house arrest. Two days after the funds were moved, Bankman-Fried tweeted: “None of these are me. I’m not and couldn’t be moving any of those funds; I don’t have access to them anymore.” He was immediately confronted with questions when he tweeted on December 30, with crypto advocate and Uponly host Cobie asking, “How is an address that you identified as yours moving funds then?”

“I believe it is likely the case that various legit legs of FTX have the ability to access these funds; hopefully that’s what’s happening here,” SBF added. “If not, hopefully, one steps in soon to do so. I would be happy to help advise regulators on this if any wanted.”

One week after the on-chain investigators identified the movement of FTX and Alameda-linked addresses, Conor Grogan, a director at Coinbase who frequently tweets about on-chain activity, discovered a large number of SBF-linked tokens that were transferred across various blockchains. The movements took place on blockchains including Polygon, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Arbitrum, and Avalanche. The addresses showed outbound movements for coins such as MATIC, AVAX, USDC, USDT, BTCB, WBTC, SPELL, PTP, MDX, and others.

“SBF (or someone with access to his wallets) most likely transferred $10s of millions in previously unreported transactions across Avalanche, BSC, Arbitrum, and Polygon blockchains,” Grogan tweeted. “There was also recent activity on 1/02 and 1/03 [and] I found a receiving wallet with $30+ million. I went through each address linked to SBF and checked other blockchains. Private keys for ETH work across other EVM chains,” Grogan added.

In addition to Grogan’s tweets, on-chain researcher Ergo tweeted about some FTX-linked bitcoin movements on January 4, 2023, stating: “Likely bankruptcy team activity. ETH tx resets WBTC deposit address, different from the FTX/FTXUS sweep … Segregating FTX and Alameda assets? Address holds 502 BTC sourced from Deribit withdrawals.” As of the time of writing, the address now holds approximately 3,499 BTC in addition to the initial 502 BTC.

Furthermore, following Ergo’s tweet, the researcher also shared a tweet that showed funds were sent to a Wasabi wallet. “Bankruptcy team still not disclosing their addresses,” Ergo said. “But more on-chain evidence that the instant swapper addresses are not behaving the same as the ‘legit legs of FTX.’”

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