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Failed crypto giant FTX has recovered billions more than it needs to pay back bankruptcy victims

Fallen cryptocurrency exchange FTX has raked in billions of dollars more than it needs to fully pay back customers who lost funds in its November 2022 collapse.

In a rare twist versus typical US bankruptcy proceedings, FTX — whose downfall recently spurred a 25-year prison sentence for its former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried — also has enough money to cover interest, according to Bloomberg.

Once it finishes selling all of its assets, FTX will have as much as $16.3 billion in cash to distribute versus about $6.4 billion earlier this year, the company said in a statement.

The firm owes more than 2 million customers and other non-governmental creditors about $11 billion.

In any bankruptcy, this is just an unbelievable result, said FTX CEOJohn Ray, who took over the firm when it collapsed.

Lower-ranking creditors traditionally receive just pennies on the dollar for their holdings in bankrupt companies, Bloomberg reported, but FTX has benefited from strong rallies in crypto tokens like Solana, which has been endorsed by Bankman-Fried.

Although FTX will pay its debts back in full, plus interest, there won’t be much left for equity holders, according to papers reviewed by Bloomberg that were filed Tuesday evening in federal court in Wilmington, Del., which is where the FTX case is being handled.

In bankruptcy, company owners cant collect anything until all debts have been paid in full.

In this case, US regulators and the Internal Revenue Service have claims that are big enough to likely wipe out shareholders, Bloomberg reported.

FTX’s top equity holders include venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, private equity company Thoma Bravo, Singapores Temasek Holdings and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, according to a court filing last year, per Bloomberg.

Celebrities including Tom Brady and his ex-wife Gisele Bundchen also hold common shares.

Creditors also have missed out on a massive surge in crypto prices this year because their claims are fixed to the date FTX filed its insolvency case in 2022 under US bankruptcy rules.

Since then, crypto prices have risen dramatically.

In reality am only getting 25% of my Bitcoin back, and that will be over many years, said UK-based Arush Sehgal, a member of the FTX unsecured creditors committee who had more than $4 million stuck on the exchange when it went under.

Still, the news is lately boosting the price of creditor claims, with some now trading at more than 100% of face value, sources told Bloomberg.

Many of those claims were trading for as little as 3 cents on the dollar immediately after the bankruptcy filing.

Bankman-Fried has vowed since his firm’s collapse that he wanted to pay victims back in full.

All we can do as a bankruptcy team is monetize the value and distribute it out, Ray said, per Bloomberg, noting that no other bankruptcy case has involved so many claimants. We cant create coins and tokens that arent there. And this is the next best alternative.

Ive never seen a case with 2 million customers, Ray added. Ive just never seen anything close to it.

The judge who prosecuted the case, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, however, had said during sentencing: The defendants assertion that FTX customers and creditors will be paid in full is misleading. It is logically flawed, it is speculative.

Car rental giant Hertz and American Airlines are among the other major US corporations that have gone through a recent bankruptcy and been able to get creditors all their money back.

Bankman-Fried recommended Solana and the decentralized blockchain platform its traded on, which bears the same name, to the prison guards at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, ahead of the 25-year sentence he got for swiping FTX user funds to plug an $8 billion debt at sister company and failing hedge fund Alameda Research.

FTX has also sold dozens of its assets, including various venture capital projects like a stake in the artificial intelligence company Anthropic, in order to stockpile more cash and pay investors back in full, according to Bloomberg.

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