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The SBF Scandal: The Players and the Money

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14 minute read

From the Brownstone Institute

BY Jeffrey A. TuckerJEFFREY A. TUCKER

The complexities of the FTX scandal with Sam Bankman-Fried at the helm boggles the mind. Unlike the Madoff scandal, which was incredibly simple, the funding, influence, and political networks sounding the $32 billion collapse of FTX is byzantine by design.

Just have a look at the org chart of the company to get a sense. It’s all the better for avoiding oversight.

What we really need in the months or even years in which it will take to sort all of this out is some kind of key to the major players. What follows is a list which we’ve put together in order of network importance for easy reference. This small effort is made necessary because there seems to be very little attention being given to the entire SBF empire, both in terms of the players with whom he worked and where the money ended up.

It’s nowhere near being a guide to the fullness of the networks of funding and influence, and can only begin to hint at the real story of what was really behind this magic bean factory in the Bahamas. Their operations and networks are deliberately obscure and fan out over many countries, institutions, and individuals. There is a strange silence in the air about the details other than the general observation that Sam Bankman-Fried was up to no good.

And yet there were obviously many people involved. It’s probable that the main point was to fund political causes in a way that gets around federal election law, as the indictment suggests in count eight. However, a close examination of the networks keeps coming back to the strange theme of pandemic planning and support for various methods of controlling the population in the name of controlling infectious disease. Aside from political donations, this was a central concern. What that has to do with a crypto exchange is another matter.

All of which should raise a question given the time of the life of FTX (2019-2022): to what extent was the network surrounding this institution useful in providing back-channel funding support for (and lack of opposition to) the most unprecedented attack on human liberty in our lifetimes? This question applies to both the direct political contributions and the various other donations to institutions and individuals.

Corrections to this list are welcome.

Family

Sam Bankman-Fried: Went to MIT, worked for Centre for Effective Altruism (fundraising 2017) and started Alameda Research in November 2017, and then the crypto trading company FTX two years later, which he ran until 2022 when it all collapsed after becoming the second-largest donor to Democrats ($38M).

Barbara Helen Fried: mother of Sam, Harvard Law graduate, professor at Stanford University, booster of Effective Altruism, and founder of Mind the Gap, a secretive political action committee in Silicon Valley.

Alan Joseph Bankman: father of Sam, Yale Law graduate and later clinical psychologist, law professor at Stanford, and author and expert on tax law.

Linda Fried: Sam’s aunt on his mother’s side and Dean of School of Public Health at Columbia University and on the board of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Aging.

Gabriel Bankman-Fried: Sam’s brother who ran Guarding Against Pandemics, a lobbying organization supporting “pandemic planning” also known as lockdowns and vaccine mandates. It has a Capitol Hill headquarters that cost $3.3 million. He previously served on a Congressional staff.

Associates

Caroline Ellison: Schooled at Stanford, she is daughter of Glenn Ellison and Sara Fisher Ellison, both professors at MIT. She became CEO of Sam’s Alameda Research and reported girlfriend of Sam’s.

Sara Fisher Ellison and Glenn Ellison: Caroline’s mother is professor of economics at MIT with a research specialization in the pharmaceutical industry while her father has written at least four papers on epidemiological modeling.

Nishad Singh: former MIT roommate of Sam’s who is said to have built the FTX platform. He seems to have left the Bahamas for India.

Zixiao “Gary” Wang: Co-founder with Sam of FTX and Alameda. He graduated from MIT and worked for Google. Beyond that hardly anything is known about him. He seems to have left the Bahamas and is reported to be in Hong Kong.

Ryan Salame: Graduate of UMass-Amherst and head of FTX Digital Markets, plus proprietor of R Salame Digital Asset Fund through the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, allegedly for charitable purposes.

William David MacAskill: real name Crouch, William is an author and philosopher and founder of the Centre for Effective Altruism and a close colleague of Sam’s. He served on the board of FTX Future Fund until it collapsed. He is a media personality who gives TED talks and is a leader purveyor of the view that one should get very rich and give it away.

Funded Institutions and Individuals (some taken from here)

Together Trial: This elaborate trial of therapeutics ended up inveighing against Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine and was generously funded by FTX. But that has been scrubbed from the public website. This is a continuing problem.

Moncef Slaoui: The head of Operation Warp Speed, he received $150,000 from FTX to write SBF’s autobiography, according to a Washington Post investigation.

HelixNano: A vaccine company that claims to be developing mutation-resistant vaccines, which received $10M in funding from FTX Future Fund, according to a Washington Post investigation.

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: This institution ran the Event 201 lockdown tabletop exercise in 2019, and received at least $175,000 for a single employee, from FTX coffers. We don’t know the full extent but it was enough for the head of the Center to defend Sam and FTX in public. Nor do we know Alameda Research’s funding reach of this institution.

Guarding Against Pandemics: Run by Sam’s brother Gabriel, this 501c4 gave at least $1M to campaigns in 2022. We do not know how much money Alameda/FTX funneled to this institution. Sam fequently recommend it as a target for charitable giving.

Protect Our Future: run by the two brothers, this PAC gave $28M to candidates in the 2022 cycle. We do not know how much Alameda/FTX gave.

Center for Innovation in Global Health, Stanford University: FTX and its network gave $1.5M to the institution.

ProPublica: A grant of $5M from FTX Future Fund. Other reports say $27 million.

Centre for Effective Altruism: FTX Future fund gift of $14M

Effective Ideas Blog: It promised to pay $1K to good blogs, and its Twitter frequently links to other institutions and individuals in the FTX network. Funded by Future Fund: $900K

Piezo Therapeutics: “Work on technology for delivering mRNA vaccines without lipid nanoparticles with the aim of making vaccines more safe, affordable, and scalable.” FTX gave $1M

Council on Strategic Risks: “a project which will develop and advance ideas for strengthening regional and multilateral cooperation for addressing biological risks.” $400K from FTX

AVECRIS Pte. Ltd: “support the development of a next-generation genetic vaccine platform that aims to allow for highly distributed vaccine production using AVECRIS’s advanced DNA vector delivery technology.” $3.6M from FTX

University of Ottawa: “a project to develop new plastic surfaces incorporating molecules that can be activated with low-energy visible light to eradicate bacteria and kill viruses continuously.” FTX gave $250K

1Day Sooner: “work on pandemic preparedness, including advocacy for advance market purchase commitments, collaboration with the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator.” FTX gave $300K.

SAGE: “creation of a pilot version of a forecasting platform, and a paid forecasting team, to make predictions about questions relevant to high-impact research.” FTX gave $700K

Longview: “global priorities research, nuclear weapons policy, and other longtermist issues.” Advisor: William MacAskill. FTX gave $15M

Confirm Solutions: “support development of statistical models and software tools that can automate parts of the regulatory process for complex clinical trials.” FTX gave $1M

Lightcone Infrastructure: “ongoing projects including running the LessWrong forum, hosting conferences and events, and maintaining an office space for Effective Altruist organizations.” FTX gave $2M

Rational Animations: “the creation of animated videos on topics related to rationality and effective altruism to explain these topics for a broader audience.” FTX gift: $400K

Giving What We Can: “to create a world in which giving effectively and significantly is a cultural norm.” FTX gift: $700,000

The Atlas Fellowship: scholarships for talented and promising high school students to use towards educational opportunities and enrolling in a summer program. FTX gift: $5M

Constellation: “support 18 months of operations for a longtermist coworking space in Berkeley.” FIX coughed up $3.9M

Longview Philanthropy: “creating a longtermist coworking office in London.” FTX committed $2.9M

Long Term Future Fund: “longtermist grantmaking.” FTX committed $3.9M

OurWorldinData: graphs and charts portal. FTX committed $7.5M

Institute for Progress: “research and policy engagement work on high-skilled immigration, biosecurity, and pandemic prevention.” FTX was in for $480K. Additional support came from Emergent Ventures, which was modeled on Fast Grants that funded Neil Ferguson’s pandemic modeling at Imperial College London, which seems to have an entangled relationship with the SFB empire, one yet to be fully disclosed.

Conclusion

What is listed above only scratches the surface of the admitted $160 million given out, but the promise had been for fully $1 billion to go to various nonprofits in this network that seems to be supported or even founded in order to receive money from FTX-connected institutions.

We could only list some of the names and a fraction of the dollar amounts. There are many other institutions and names that could be part of this list but we lacked enough documentation to verify for this article. There is still the task of listing all political campaigns that were in receipt of the money as well as the public-relations boosters of the whole effort.

Building off the success of Bill Gates, Sam Bankman-Fried, and his many associates, clearly saw philanthropy as the path to influence, power, and protection. At the same time, many nonprofit organizations saw an opportunity too; to build their own empires through promised millions and billions from a crypto genius in the Bahamas who had an unusual passion for pandemic planning.

For three years, many of us have wondered how it came to be that the critics of lockdowns and mandates were so few and far between. There are surely many explanations but, as usual, it helps fill in the dots to follow the money.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey A. Tucker, Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute, is an economist and author. He has written 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Higher Capital Gains Taxes cap off a loser federal budget

Published on

From Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Lee Harding

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

New taxes on capital gains mean more capital pains for Canadians as they endure another tax-grabbing, heavy-spending federal deficit budget.

Going forward, the inclusion rate increases to 66 per cent, up from 50 per cent, on capital gains above $250,000 for people and on all capital gains for corporations and trusts. The change will affect 307,000 businesses and see Ottawa, according to probably optimistic projections, rake in an additional $19.4 billion over four years.

A wide chorus of voices have justifiably condemned this move. If an asset is sold for more than it was bought for, the government will claim two-thirds of the value because half is no longer enough.  It’s pure government greed.

If you were an investor or a young tech entrepreneur looking for somewhere to set up shop, would you choose Canada? And if you’re already that investor, how hard would you work to appreciate your assets when the government seizes much of the improvement?

Even before this budget, the OECD predicted Canada would have the lowest growth rates in per-person GDP up to 2060 of all its member countries.

In a speech in Halifax on March 26, Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers put the productivity problem this way: “You’ve seen those signs that say, ‘In emergency, break glass.’ Well, it’s time to break the glass.”

What can Canadians bash now? Their heads against a wall?

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

No kidding. Not since the first Prime Minister Trudeau (Pierre) have Canadians been able to count so reliably on deficit spending, higher expenditures, and more taxes.

Long ago, it seems now, when Justin Trudeau was not yet prime minister, he campaigned on “a modest short-term deficit” of less than $10 billion for each of the first three years and a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

His rationale was that low interest rates made it a rare opportunity to borrow and build infrastructure, all to encourage economic growth. Of course, the budget never balanced itself and Canada has lost $225 billion in foreign investment since 2016.

The deficits continue though the excuse of low interest rates is long gone. Despite higher carbon and capital gains taxes, this year’s deficit will match last year’s: $40 billion. Infrastructure seems less in view than an ever-expanding nanny state of taxpayer-funded dental care, child care, and pharmacare.

Of course, the Trudeau deficits were not as modest as advertised, and all-time federal debt has doubled to $1.2 trillion in less than a decade. Debt interest payments this coming fiscal year will be $54.1 billion, matching GST revenue and exceeding the $52 billion of transfers to the provinces for health care.

In 1970, columnist Lubor Zink quoted Pierre Trudeau as saying, “One has to be in the wheelhouse to see what shifts are taking place . . . The observer . . . on the deck . . . sees the horizon much in the same direction and doesn’t realize it but perhaps he will find himself disembarking at a different island than the one he thought he was sailing for.”

Like father, like son, Justin Trudeau has captained Canada to a deceptive and unwelcome destination. What started as Fantasy Island is becoming Davy Jones’ Locker.

Lee Harding is a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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Canada’s economy has stagnated despite Ottawa’s spin

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From the Fraser Institute

By Ben Eisen, Milagros Palacios and Lawrence Schembri

Canada’s inflation-adjusted per-person annual economic growth rate (0.7 per cent) is meaningfully worse than the G7 average (1.0 per cent) over this same period. The gap with the U.S. (1.2 per cent) is even larger. Only Italy performed worse than Canada.

Growth in gross domestic product (GDP), the total value of all goods and services produced in the economy annually, is one of the most frequently cited indicators of Canada’s economic performance. Journalists, politicians and analysts often compare various measures of Canada’s total GDP growth to other countries, or to Canada’s past performance, to assess the health of the economy and living standards. However, this statistic is misleading as a measure of living standards when population growth rates vary greatly across countries or over time.

Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, for example, recently boasted that Canada had experienced the “strongest economic growth in the G7” in 2022. Although the Trudeau government often uses international comparisons on aggregate GDP growth as evidence of economic success, it’s not the first to do so. In 2015, then-prime minister Stephen Harper said Canada’s GDP growth was “head and shoulders above all our G7 partners over the long term.”

Unfortunately, such statements do more to obscure public understanding of Canada’s economic performance than enlighten it. In reality, aggregate GDP growth statistics are not driven by productivity improvements and do not reflect rising living standards. Instead, they’re primarily the result of differences in population and labour force growth. In other words, they aren’t primarily the result of Canadians becoming better at producing goods and services (i.e. productivity) and thus generating more income for their families. Instead, they primarily reflect the fact that there are simply more people working, which increases the total amount of goods and services produced but doesn’t necessarily translate into increased living standards.

Let’s look at the numbers. Canada’s annual average GDP growth (with no adjustment for population) from 2000 to 2023 was the second-highest in the G7 at 1.8 per cent, just behind the United States at 1.9 per cent. That sounds good, until you make a simple adjustment for population changes by comparing GDP per person. Then a completely different story emerges.

Canada’s inflation-adjusted per-person annual economic growth rate (0.7 per cent) is meaningfully worse than the G7 average (1.0 per cent) over this same period. The gap with the U.S. (1.2 per cent) is even larger. Only Italy performed worse than Canada.

Why the inversion of results from good to bad? Because Canada has had by far the fastest population growth rate in the G7, growing at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent—more than twice the annual population growth rate of the G7 as a whole at 0.5 per cent. In aggregate, Canada’s population increased by 29.8 per cent during this time period compared to just 11.5 per cent in the entire G7.

Clearly, aggregate GDP growth is a poor tool for international comparisons. It’s also not a good way to assess changes in Canada’s performance over time because Canada’s rate of population growth has not been constant. Starting in 2016, sharply higher rates of immigration have led to a pronounced increase in population growth. This increase has effectively partially obscured historically weak economic growth per person over the same period.

Specifically, from 2015 to 2023, under the Trudeau government, inflation-adjusted per-person economic growth averaged just 0.3 per cent. For historical perspective, per-person economic growth was 0.8 per cent annually under Brian Mulroney, 2.4 per cent under Jean Chrétien and 2.0 per cent under Paul Martin.

Due to Canada’s sharp increase in population growth in recent years, aggregate GDP growth is a misleading indicator for comparing economic growth performance across countries or time periods. Canada is not leading the G7, or doing well in historical terms, when it comes to economic growth measures that make simple adjustments for our rapidly growing population. In reality, we’ve become a growth laggard and our living standards have largely stagnated for the better part of a decade.

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