April 15, 2024

Warren, Grassley Probe CFTC Chair Behnam's Interactions and Meetings with Sam Bankman-Fried

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam Testified to Multiple Meetings and Text Conversations with Bankman-Fried Before FTX Collapse

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, sent a letter to Rostin Behnam, Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), requesting an accounting of all meetings and correspondence between Chair Behnam and Sam Bankman-Fried during his tenure as Chair. 

“Mr. Bankman-Fried was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison for stealing $8 billion dollars from users of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. This punishment, while appropriate, provided cold comfort for his victims, who will never be made whole financially. Safeguarding the savings and retirements of Americans requires Congress and market regulators like the CFTC to determine how this multi-billion-dollar crime was allowed to happen,” wrote the senators. 

Immediately after FTX collapsed in November 2022, Chair Behnam testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee that he and his team met in the CFTC offices with Sam Bankman-Fried and his team 10 times over the past 14 months. Chair Behnam also acknowledged  “a number of messages” with Sam Bankman-Fried. 

To understand the nature of Chair Behnam’s correspondence with Sam Bankman-Fried in the months leading up to the public revelation of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s crimes, the senators are asking Chair Behnam to provide a full accounting of all meetings, phone calls, and correspondence with Mr. Bankman-Fried by April 29, 2024. 

Since FTX’s crash, Senator Warren has led oversight of crypto and financial regulators to protect consumers and the safety and stability of the financial system: 

  • In December 2022, Senators Warren, Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and John Kennedy (R-La.) wrote to Silvergate, the bank that reportedly facilitated the transfer of FTX customer funds to Alameda Research, seeking answers about the bank’s role in the loss of billions of dollars in customer funds.
  • In November 2022, at a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Warren called on regulators to keep crypto out of the banking system following FTX’s collapse.
  • In November 2022, Senators Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting personal accountability for former FTX CEO Sam-Bankman Fried and any complicit FTX executives for wrongdoing following the exchange’s collapse. 
  • In November 2022, Senator Warren published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging federal regulators to use their expansive authorities to crack down on crypto fraud and hold the industry to the same basic standards as other financial activities. 
  • In November 2022, Senators Warren and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent a letter to Sam Bankman-Fried and John Jay Ray III, the newly appointed CEO of FTX, seeking information on the reported misuse of billions of dollars of customer funds and other disturbing allegations that continue to emerge about the company’s fraudulent and illicit practices.