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Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants to help Floridians who may have been victimized by this generation’s Bernie Madoff.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Commissioner Russell Weigel of the state’s Office of Financial Regulation, Patronis requested a plan on how to aid Florida residents hit by the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which filed a multibillion-dollar bankruptcy action in November.
In his letter, Patronis noted that FTX’s founder and CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, known in the media as SBF, “was lauded in industry publications as not just someone who could grow a company – but do so for a ‘positive’ impact on the world.”
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Time magazine, for example, dubbed SBF “an effective altruist” and claimed that he believed in crypto’s “transformative power for good,” Patronis added.
“Outside of good PR, he was also very effective at giving money (over $40 million) to politicians who were specifically affiliated with the Democratic Party,” the CFO continued. “Ultimately, SBF may not have been very good at running a company, but it did not matter because he was highly effective at using the media and politicians to gain credibility for the purpose of stealing people’s money.”
“Unfortunately, we have Floridians who were duped, and to the degree the State of Florida can take a more proactive approach to help Floridians get their money back, it seems we should,” Patronis said in the letter.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation is the “main entity” designated to protect consumers from fraud within the financial services sector, said Patronis. As such, he added, “it is my expectation the agency is using every tool at its disposal to ensure Floridians who had their money stolen are not lost in the fog of war.”
The OFR, he noted, has a “number of tools at its disposal that could prove useful in helping Floridians in getting some, or all, of their money back in an expedited manner.”
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The CFO said he would lend “investigatory support” to financial regulators if necessary.
“No doubt, getting to the bottom of what happened and figuring out what happened to all of the money and where it went will be complicated,” Patronis wrote.
“A collapse this size can only happen when leadership is stealing people’s money, and we need to make sure we’re doing everything possible to help Floridians who may have been impacted by this house of cards.”
SBF faces eight counts of the allegation of financial impropriety.
The charges include wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and breaches of campaign-finance laws.
If convicted, SBF could get up to 115 years in prison.
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