FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) were known for throwing money all over town. They were donating huge sums to political parties (both sides), and FTX itself was donating hundreds of millions to all sorts of charities. SBF is believed to be the largest donor to the Democratic party, but the way political funding works makes it impossible to actually know. Now that the music has stopped, executives brought in to ferry FTX through the bankruptcy process have been clawing back any money they possibly could to mitigate the damage to customers.
Part of this process includes recovering money that was donated by FTX–what’s left at least. The current reported number is $160M across 110 charities as of September 2022. Much of those funds have already been used by the charities, and some of the money that is remaining is being held until there have been further legal clarifications on how they should be handling the money.
In particular, there was a lot of money donated for work on COVID-19 vaccines, biological research, and further disease prevention. SBF’s brother, Gabriel Bankman-Fried, was the founder of a non-profit called Guarding Against Pandemics. The pair had apparently spent $70M since October 2021 on research projects, donations, and initiatives.
The largest donation from FTX was $10M to HelixNano, a biotech startup working on a COVID-19 vaccine.
SBF himself made a reported $80M in political donations, but American political donations have various loopholes that allow one to make uncapped dark donations. John J. Ray, who is currently heading FTX through bankruptcy, is also chasing after those political donations. I’m doubtful he’s going to get any of those back.