Billionaire investor Bill Ackman pushed back on claims he was defending Sam Bankman-Fried after tweeting the crypto huckster’s excuses for FTX’s collapse were “believable.”
The Pershing Square Capital Management boss turned heads last week after saying, “Call me crazy, but I think @sbf is telling the truth” –following Bankman-Fried’s lengthy interview at the New York Times DealBook Summit.
Ackman, worth an estimated $3.5 billion according to Forbes, tried to clarify his comments on Saturday.
“I was in attendance … and tweeted that I found SBF believable. Many have interpreted my tweet to mean that I am defending SBF or somehow supporting him. Nothing could be further from the truth,” the hedge fund big tweeted.
He added in the tweet thread that the FTX scandal was the worst case of “gross negligence” he’s ever seen.
“The @FTX_Official fiasco is, at a minimum, the most egregious, large-scale case of business gross negligence that I have observed in my career, and that conclusion is reinforced by SBF’s recent public statements,” Ackman tweeted.
Bankman-Fried denied any wrongdoing during Wednesday’s interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, saying, he did not “knowingly commingle” funds between his crypto exchange and FTX’s sister trading firm Alameda Research.
“Clearly I made a lot of mistakes. There are things I would give anything to be able to do over again. I did not ever try to commit fraud on anyone,” Bankman-Fried said.
Ackman did note Saturday that if Bankman-Fried “is telling the truth, it may make it more likely that he has civil rather than criminal liability.”
Ackman’s efforts to reinterpret his comments were met with incredulity. Popular financial meme account Liquidity commented, “sick backpedal.”
Another account that monitors trading activity — Unusual Whales — posted a screenshot from early November where Ackman applauded Bankman-Fried for “his accountability.”
Ackman said he had “never before seen a CEO take responsibility” the way Bankman-Fried did.
A spokesperson for Pershing square did not immediately respond to request for comment.
FTX — which filed for bankruptcy Nov. 11 — is facing investigations from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and The Department of Justice.