Sam Bankman-Fried at a Manhattan federal court on December 22.
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images
Bankrupt FTX’s new bosses are trying to wrest control of Robinhood shares from Sam Bankman-Fried.
Worth $450 million, the 56 million shares represent a 7.6% stake in trading app firm Robinhood.
Failed crypto lender BlockFi and an FTX creditor in Antigua have also laid claim to the shares in court.
Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and the crypto exchange’s new bosses are locked in a legal battle over who owns a stake in Robinhood worth just under $450 million, a Thursday court filing has shown.
Both are laying claim to the assets held by Antigua-based holding company Emergent Fidelity Technologies — whose sole director and majority stakeholder is Bankman-Fried.
Emergent and Bankman-Fried disclosed a 7.6% stake in trading app provider Robinhood in May. The then-crypto billionaire paid $648 million for just over 56.3 million shares, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Robinhood shares traded at $7.99 as of Thursday’s closing bell, meaning Emergent’s stake is now worth $447 million.
On Thursday, FTX’s new bosses filed a motion in US bankruptcy court asking it to freeze any activity in the shares while a four-way dispute over who owns them plays out.
Lawyers for the collapsed crypto exchange, which is trying to track down funds to pay creditors, told the Delaware court that it believes the Robinhood stake held by Emergent is FTX’s property, rather than Bankman-Fried’s.
“The debtors are conducting an investigation into the business affairs of the FTX group,” they said in the filing. “This investigation to date indicates that the Robinhood shares are property of the debtors’ estates, held only nominally by Emergent.”
Two others have laid claim to the Robinhood shares: failed cryptocurrency lending firm BlockFi and FTX creditor Yonatan Ben Shimon.
BlockFi sued Bankman-Fried for the Robinhood shares in November, saying a $1 billion pledge by Alameda Research to secure loan obligations included the stake. Caroline Ellison, who was head of FTX’s trading arm at the time, made the move, it said.
“The Robinhood Shares were included in these pledged assets by Alameda’s then-CEO, despite the fact that the Robinhood Shares were nominally held by Emergent, because Alameda had then, and continues to have, a property interest in the Robinhood Shares,” FTX said in its court filing.
The company asked the bankruptcy judge to stop BlockFi from laying claim to the Robinhood holding.
Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, has said he expects the Emergent stake to be locked up in bankruptcy proceedings for a considerable period, given the hunt for assets at the failed exchange.
“I’m not surprised that it’s one of the more valuable assets they have on their balance sheet, because it is public company’s stock,” Tenev told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” earlier in December.
“We’re just watching this unfold. And it’s going to be locked up in bankruptcy proceedings — most likely for some time — and so we’re just kind of seeing how that plays out,” he added.
Bankman-Fried, who faces criminal charges including fraud in the US, was released on a $250 million bail after a hearing in a New York court on Thursday. Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of fraud.