By Dietrich Knauth
(Reuters) -Lawyers for the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX on Wednesday opposed a demand for internal records from an insolvent affiliate based in the Bahamas, saying they “do not trust” the Bahamian government with data that could be used to siphon off assets from the bankrupt company.
Liquidators of FTX’s Bahamian business, FTX Digital Markets, had asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Dorsey to give them access to the U.S. unit’s Slack, Google and Amazon Web Services accounts and data.
At a court hearing in Delaware, lawyers for FTX asked Dorsey to deny the request. They argued that Bahamian regulators had worked with FTX’s founder, the recently arrested Sam Bankman-Fried, to undermine the U.S. bankruptcy case and withdraw assets to the detriment of some creditors.
FTX attorney James Bromley told Dorsey that the Bahamian government has previously obtained information from FTX Digital Market’s liquidators and used it to siphon digital assets away from FTX.
“This is dangerous information,” Bromley said. “We do not trust the Bahamian government.”
The Securities Commission of the Bahamas (SCB) has previously disputed FTX’s “misstatements” about the Bahamian government’s response to FTX’s collapse.
Asked for comment on Wednesday, the SCB said it “is not providing responses to general inquiries at this point.”
Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis on Wednesday defended the country’s regulation of the digital asset industry in an interview with local broadcaster Eyewitness News.
“It’s mind-boggling that you could say it’s not a properly regulated industry,” he said, when asked for his response to criticism of the country’s handling of the FTX collapse.
Chris Shore, an attorney for the Bahamas-based liquidators, told Dorsey that the liquidators were not working at the direction of the Bahamian government. The liquidators are court-appointed officials working to protect FTX Digital’s creditors, and need some access to data in to do that work, Shore said.
Dorsey began the hearing by asking whether FTX and the Bahamas liquidators could reach a compromise on data sharing before Bromley shot that suggestion down.
Bromley said Bankman-Fried’s recent arrest might help negotiations between FTX and authorities in the Bahamas, but that he remains wary.
Dorsey suggested that the two sides either find a mediator or prepare to present evidence at a court hearing in January.
FTX, its hedge fund Alameda Research and dozens of affiliates filed for U.S. bankruptcy last month after the trading platform suffered a rush of withdrawals and a rescue deal failed.
The same week, authorities in the Bahamas, where the company had its headquarters, appointed liquidators to wind down FTX’s international trading business.
John Ray, who was appointed chief executive of the bankrupt FTX, told a Congressional committee on Tuesday that the Bahamian government colluded with Bankman-Fried to help account holders in the country pull $100 million from the crypto exchange just as it was going bankrupt.
Ray called the Bahamian government’s actions “alarming”.
“Unlike the Chapter 11 process, there is no transparency in the process in the Bahamas,” Ray said. “We have repeatedly asked them for clarity on what they’ve been doing, and we’ve been shot down on that.”
The SCB said in court filings on Tuesday that Ray has created “a false impression” that Bahamian citizens were being protected at the expense of FTX’s other customers. It called on him “to not obstruct” its investigation into FTX’s collapse.
Bankman-Fried was arrested Monday in the Bahamas and is being detained while awaiting extradition to the United States to face criminal and civil fraud charges.
(Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Deepa Babington and Sam Holmes)