The United States Department of Justice is investigating the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency taken in unauthorized transactions from collapsed exchange FTX, according to a report on Tuesday.
FTX was hit with a mystery attack on November 11, shortly after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, adding a surprise twist to the saga around the exchange and its outspoken founder, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF). The funds were then moved around to other exchanges and converted into different cryptocurrencies.
Now, federal prosecutors are tracking the assets—and have managed to freeze some, Bloomberg first reported Tuesday, citing a person familiar with the case. However, the amount of funds frozen are described as a "fraction" of the overall amount.
Blockchain analysts claim that about $650 million worth of cryptocurrency left the Bahamas-based digital asset exchange in the hack, making it one of the largest crypto attacks of 2022. However, FTX's bankruptcy filing notes that "at least $372 million" was stolen, suggesting some discrepancy in the accounting of the missing funds.
Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis confirmed to Decrypt last week that although Bahamian authorities did access FTX funds after its filing, as some news reports previously claimed, hackers indeed pilfered $650 million worth of funds at the time of the November attack.
At the collapsed exchange’s first court hearing, James Bromley—counsel to FTX’s new management—said that a “substantial amount” of the exchange’s assets are missing or have been stolen.
Feds hit FTX co-founder and former CEO Bankman-Fried with eight criminal charges earlier this month, including money laundering and wire fraud. The DOJ investigation does not relate to those charges, and Bankman-Fried previously hinted before his arrest that the unauthorized transactions may have been an inside job performed by a disgruntled employee.
FTX quickly collapsed last month after it became clear that the company did not have sufficient funds to back customers’ assets. This was because Alameda Research, a sister company also founded by Bankman-Fried, had the ability to use FTX customer assets for its own means and without oversight, according to newly appointed FTX CEO John J. Ray III.
Bankman-Fried was last week released to his parents’ home on a $250 million pre-trial bond after being extradited to the U.S. from the Bahamas.