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Maxine Waters does not plan to subpoena Sam Bankman-Fried to testify at the cryptocurrency exchange crash hearing

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) takes part in a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.

Erin Scott | Reuters

House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters told Democrats she has no plans to subpoena former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to testify at Tuesday’s hearing about the rapid collapse of cryptocurrency exchanges, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

Waters informed committee members of her decision in a private meeting Tuesday with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler on Capitol Hill, those people said, who declined to be named in order to speak freely about private conversations.

Those who attended the meeting said Waters said she wanted committee staff to try to persuade Bankman-Fried to testify voluntarily, those with knowledge of the meeting said. As of late Wednesday, Bankman-Fried had not yet agreed to testify voluntarily before the House Committee, two of the people said.

Waters, who will lose her chairmanship when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives on January 3, could end up referring to MP Patrick McHenry, R-NSW, the top Republican on the committee and likely the next chair, to decide. Whether to ask Bankman-Fried to be subpoenaed in the next congressional session if the FTX founder refuses to voluntarily testify under oath next week.

Bankman-Fried has been under scrutiny from federal investigators and lawmakers on Capitol Hill since the cryptocurrency exchange suddenly collapsed last month, bringing to light a host of questionable transactions. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced that his committee will hold a meeting he heard On FTX’s implosion on December 14th. The company’s crash has reportedly arrived after FTX Transfer Billions of dollars in client money for Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research business.

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Waters invited Bankman Fried to testify voluntarily before the committee and she could always change her mind and call him before Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the commission declined to comment.

Bankman-Fried tweeted his response to Waters, saying he felt it was his “duty” to explain what happened, even though it may not happen next week. FTX’s new CEO, John Jay Ray III, is scheduled to testify at his hearing next week in the House of Representatives.

“Once I have finished learning and reviewing what happened, I will feel it my duty to appear before the committee and explain,” Bankman-Fried said. “I’m not sure it will happen by the 13th. But when it does, I will testify.”

Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace was swift and ruthless after years like coding “darling” in Washington. He donated nearly $40 million towards the 2022 midterm congressional elections, with a large portion of it going to the Democrats.

Nishad Singhwho became the chief architect of FTX at 2019 After a stint at Bankman Fried’s business Alameda Research, she has donated more than $13 million to Democratic causes since the start of the 2020 presidential election.

Ryan Salameh, co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, donated another $23 million, with Republicans benefiting from most of his contributions.

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